Lokedi earns trip to NCAA Championships with runner-up finish at Midwest Regional

PEORIA, Ill. – For the fourth time in her illustrious career, Kansas cross country senior Sharon Lokedi qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships, placing second at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Peoria, Illinois on Friday morning. Lokedi’s runner-up finish paced the Jayhawk women to a seventh-place team finish, while redshirt junior Dylan Hodgson led Kansas to sixth place in the men’s team standings.

Lokedi’s second-place finish marks the third time in as many years the Eldoret, Kenya native finished runner-up at the NCAA Midwest Regional. The result also earned her the fourth All-Region honor of her career, having finished third at the regional meet her freshman season.

The senior maintained her presence near the front of the pack the entirety of the race, sitting in second at the 2K checkpoint, third at the 3K mark and moving up to the lead spot with 1,000 meters remaining in the 6K race. Lokedi was unable to hold off Iowa State’s Cailie Logue in the final 1K for the regional title, crossing the finish line in 20:23.0, 9.5 seconds behind her Big 12 Conference rival.

Freshmen McKenzie Wilks and Ally Ryan continued their impressive rookie seasons, as the second and third Jayhawks, respectively, to cross the finish line in the women’s 6K race. Wilks placed 36th with a time of 21:25.6 and Ryan clocked in at 21:28.3, good for 41st place.

Hodgson placed 29th (31:42.4) in the men’s 10K race, with three other Jayhawks finishing within 17 seconds of the Washington, Kansas native. Ben Butler was the next Jayhawk to cross the line in 34th (31:46.9), while brothers Michael Melgares and Chris Melgares placed 36th (31:50.9) and 41st (31:58.9), respectively.

Head Coach Stanley Redwine
On the women’s performance:
“The goal for today–we wanted the women to qualify for NCAA. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I thought Sharon (Lokedi) had a really good race. She led the team well. Because it was a larger race, we got lost from running with each other. The plan was to run in a pack and that didn’t happen and unfortunately the result was we ran as individuals and not as a team. What did we learn from it? We have to trust the coaches. We have to trust the process of what we’re supposed to do. I think they learned from it and the results hurt. I think everyone is disappointed, but we just have to be strong and learn from what we did.”

On Sharon Lokedi’s performance:
“Sharon is a very special lady and I think she always steps up to the occasion. From watching her at Big 12s where she wasn’t totally healthy and to see her recover well and do well today, I think she’ll do well at NCAAs.”

On the men’s performance:
“As a team, I thought they did really well. They did what we asked them to do. We just have to continue to get better and that’s what it is. It’s not that they didn’t do what they were asked, there were teams that were better than us today and that’s what it is. I’m proud of what they did today and we just need to continue to work and get ready for indoor season.”

Senior Sharon Lokedi
On her mindset going into today’s meet and her execution today:
“From the beginning, I was just really excited. I just wanted to go in there and compete and have another chance at competing with my teammates. I feel like it was fine. The race felt good. Toward the end I was doing okay, I just didn’t close out. Compared to last week, I feel like it’s a step in the right place. We have next week so I’m just going to go back and stay competitive and get ready for next week.”

On the steps to reach her goals at Nationals:
“Just go recover. I feel like we’ve already done everything that we’re supposed to be doing. Just reset my mind and get mentally strong. Just think about how to execute next week and be excited about it.”

On her emotions going into her last Nationals:
“Honestly I don’t know. I just wish I could go with the team. We did our best, we tried, but we didn’t make it. It’ll be fun, I’m excited, but on the other hand I’m also sad because I really wanted to do it with the team and have them do it with me. I’m still really excited about it and looking forward to it.”

Women’s 6K
2. Sharon Lokedi – 20:23.0
36. McKenzie Wilks – 21:25.6
41. Ally Ryan – 21:28.3
60. Megan Paule – 21:40.5
90. Riley Cooney – 22:00.7
109. Lauren Harrell – 22:11.5
113. Cameron Gueldner – 22:16.3

Men’s 10K
29. Dylan Hodgson – 31:42.4
34. Ben Butler – 31:46.9
36. Michael Melgares – 31:50.9
41. Chris Melgares – 31:58.9
59. John Luder – 32:14.0
73. Chace Hale – 32:28.9
76. George Letner – 32:32.4

Lokedi will look to become the second three-time All-American in Kansas Cross Country history–joining Jayhawk legend Billy Mills, who earned All-America status in 1958, 1959 and 1960–when she runs at the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17 at the Zimmer Championship Course in Madison, Wisconsin. At-large team selections for the NCAA Championships which will be announced at 4 p.m. CST on Nov. 10 during the inaugural NCAA Cross Country Selection Show on NCAA.com.