Jayhawk Insider: Historic team and individual performances encourage KU Cross Country
By: Mitch George
On Thursday, Oct. 25, the day before the Big 12 Championship, the Kansas cross country teams arrived at the ISU Cross Country Course in Ames, Iowa, greeted by clear conditions and temperatures in the 50s–what many participants would consider ideal running weather. On the following day, the athletes returned to the same weather–ready to compete for a conference title.
Both the men’s and women’s teams saw success, with the men finishing fourth out of nine teams and the women finishing at a program-best third out of 10. Additionally, with five combined runners earning All-Big 12 honors on the men’s and women’s teams, their performances mark the first time in conference history where they’ve reached this mark.
“We came in as a team and we wanted to compete as a team and we did,” head coach Stanley Redwine said. “Obviously, everything doesn’t go your way the whole way throughout the race, but how can you not be excited about our finish for the team.”
The women’s race began first at 10 a.m., followed by the men at 11 a.m. After mounting a lead halfway through the race, senior Sharon Lokedi eventually fell back to finish fifth with a time of 20:17.4. Shortly behind, freshman Ally Ryan finished with a time of 20:55.1, which earned her 13th place on the day.
The pair of top-15 finishes earned each of them All-Big 12 honors.
“I didn’t expect that at all, it was just amazing to go out there and do that for my team,” Ryan said. “I don’t really have words to say how proud I am [of my team].”
As for Lokedi, who was the two-time defending Big 12 Champion entering the race, noted that despite her finish being lower than expected, she remains focused on races to come.
“[My performance] was not great,” she said. “I’m so proud of how the team did… I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks, for regionals, and I know we’re going to pull another day just like today.”
Following the women, the men made waves in their own race. Three Kansas runners earned All-Big 12 honors, which was tied for third-most among competing teams.
Senior Michael Melgares was the first Jayhawk to finish with a time of 24:11.8, which placed him 10th overall. Sophomore Ben Butler came in next with a time of 24:14.8 and a 12th-place finish followed by redshirt junior Dylan Hodgson at 24:17.8 and a 13th-place finish.
For Butler, being regarded as an All-Big 12 athlete means he’s reached one of his career objectives.
“It means everything to me,” he said. “This was one of the goals I had coming into college… This is the best day I’ve ever had.”
Hodgson also spoke about both his personal and team performance.
“This is, by far, the closest I’ve ever felt to a team,” Hodgson said. “Most of my enjoyment comes from trying to help them out rather than running for myself.”
The three men’s team All-Big 12 honorees mark the first time since 2006 where Kansas has put three men in the top-15.
The teams will next travel to Peoria, Illinois to take part in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships on Friday, Nov. 9.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.