Redwine, Cooney, Melgares preview 2018 cross country season at Media Day
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas cross country head coach Stanley Redwine, along with junior Riley Cooney and redshirt senior Chris Melgares, met with the media on Thursday afternoon to preview the upcoming season.
The Jayhawks begin their season on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 9 a.m. at the Bob Timmons Classic at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence.
A transcript of the press conference is below and the video replay of the entire Kansas Athletics Fall Sports Media Day is available at KUAthletics.com/Watch.
STANLEY REDWINE: Thanks for being here, everyone. As the other two coaches said, they’re excited about their seasons, and I’m excited about ours, too, both on the men and women’s side. I think we have leadership on both, and that’s going to help us out and show the rest of the teams what it takes in order to be successful. We wanted it as coaches last year. Coach Whitt (Michael Whittlesey) has done an awesome job as well, but I think last year we emphasized the success of the team to the point where the team was up there trying and trying and putting it out there, and we had some injuries last year, and so those injuries had a lot of people out for the season.
And so this year, we’ll do a better job of that and make sure that we’re going to pace ourselves right. But the athletes are in place to do well. Both teams, the goal is we want to make it to the NCAA Championships. We want to make it to postseason and do well. Obviously having Chris (Melgares) on the guys’ side and Sharon (Lokedi) on the ladies’ side to lead both teams is huge for us, and I think with people like Riley (Cooney), it’s going to continue to do well. It’s been doing well so far. I think we’re going to be really good.
It’s been really fun for me to watch. I know Coach Whitt has also stressed a little bit and wanting to make sure that everything is perfect because they ended with a really good season last year on the track, and so the attitude is there. The confidence is there. We just have to continue to go out and train hard every day, but not only just train hard, train smart, and knowing that when the meets are there, we have to emphasize the meet and not race every day in practice, but when it’s time to show up, we have to show up well.
There’s an emphasis on doing well, both men and women. We don’t want to take a step back and watch other teams do good. To me, it’s just kind of a synergy; when volleyball does well, soccer does well. We want to do well, too, and they put it out there. They showed that it can be done here in Kansas. Basketball, as well. It can be done here at Kansas, and we want to be the one that’s contributing, as well. So both men and women, we’re excited and looking forward to the season.
We’ve only trained two days, so it’s kind of hard to say, hey, everyone is in perfect shape right now because we’re not, but I think we’re where we need to be in order to continue to get better. But today was a challenging morning for us, and they ran in a pack, and they ran really well. As it relates to the meets, we have to be as strong on our fifth person as we are on our first person. When you have really good leadership like we do, it’s easy to just rely on those front runners.
But I think our fifth person is as important as our tenth person, who is as important as our first person. So we have to pack, and pack well and run well together, be a team, communicate with each other and make sure that we’re doing the right things on the course.
With that said, we have Chris Melgares here and Riley Cooney, who are both leaders on the team, and you can ask them any questions.
Q. Being one of the older voices on the team, how do you individually take a leadership role?
CHRIS MELGARES: Yeah, so last year was a challenging year just because I dealt with a lot of injuries, and so I wasn’t able to run with the team last year for a good portion of the season, and a big thing I learned through that year was that positivity plays a huge impact on the team. Even if you’re not actually running with the team, being positive is something you can bring to the table any day, and so that’s an attitude that I’ve tried to bring early this year and even throughout the summer, and I think that was a valuable lesson for me, so that’s something that I definitely tried to contribute to the team.
RILEY COONEY: Yeah, I guess after being here for four years, I’ve seen and gotten to run with a lot of really talented runners, and I’ve tried to follow the tone that they’ve set. They’ve had a lot of success, and we’re really excited to have Sharon back for another year, and just really trying to set a good example for the younger girls. We have a lot of older girls who have been at some of the big races, and so we – like Coach Redwine said, we battled a lot of injuries last year, but I think we learned a lot in that, and we’re not only coming back stronger but we’re coming back smarter, and so I’m really excited to see how that’s going to play out on the course.
Q. Coach mentioned that you’ve only really trained for two days now, so you haven’t seen yourselves at full strength. For both of you, just can you tell us kind of where you’re at right now and if you’re ahead or behind where you’re wanting to be at this stage early?
CHRIS MELGARES: I would say right now we’re pretty much right where we want to be, just because everyone came to campus a couple days ago healthy, for the most part everyone did what they were supposed to over the summer. Everyone hit their mileage. It’s huge to have the whole team healthy starting out the season. That doesn’t always happen. And like Coach Redwine said, today we had a tougher run, ran a lot of hills this morning, and the whole team stayed together, and so that’s right honestly where we want to see our team at this point.
As the season moves along, the intensity will ramp up, too, and so ideally, we’d keep the team together as that intensity starts to grow. But in terms of right now, today, we’re in a good position.
RILEY COONEY: I’d agree with that. Just talking to the girls all summer, I know that they were putting in the work, not only running the miles but also doing the little things outside, doing their strength work, doing recovery work, and so we’re not at full strength right now, but you’re not supposed to be at full strength in August, you’re supposed to be at full strength in November, and I have full confidence that we’ll get there. I know that people have really enjoyed their mileage this summer, and we’re all really, really excited to start doing some harder workouts and really testing ourselves and testing each other.
Q. Riley, last spring you and Sharon had really good seasons on the track. How does that carry over and how does that momentum carry over to spring?
RILEY COONEY: Yeah, I think it plays a big role. I mean, a lot of you know, Sharon Lokedi, 10K national champion, that’s huge, and I know that she was really excited with that, but she has really big goals for this fall, not only for herself but for this team. Sharon is such a great leader in that she not only celebrates her own successes but she celebrates her team’s success a lot more. And so she’s a great leader, and we’re really excited to build off that momentum. Even though we’ve had success in the past, that doesn’t determine what we’re going to do this fall, so it’s really up to us to take advantage of the opportunities we have and really just compete to the best of our abilities.
Q. Chris, I know your bother Michael (Melgares) had a really strong season last year. What did you really see from him growth-wise last year to kind of make him ready for the season and kind of be right up there with you at the top two?
CHRIS MELGARES: Yeah, so as I mentioned before, I was injured last year, and then we had a couple other rough injuries, and Michael was really forced to step up, and I think he learned a lot throughout that experience because in the past, as an underclassman, you’re not necessarily expected to maintain that leadership role. So it was good for him to kind of grow into that role while a few of us were on the sidelines, and I think that was really valuable experience for him, and that’s something that will translate really well for him this season.
We’ve also got guys like Dylan Hodgson, Bryce Hoppel. Those guys had an awesome track season and having the experiences they did at the National Championships (NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships) meet, that’ll be huge for them as leaders and for just stepping into that role of being an example for others. And so I think all that combined is going to be very valuable for us this season.
Q. What’s it like seeing Marleena (Eubanks) running cross country now?
STANLEY REDWINE: She ran with them today, and she did a really good job. We’re kind of optimistic that she’ll do a really good job and continue to do well. But she’ll bring a little something different because she’s – her strength is really good, but everyone else’s endurance is really good. As we get her more endurance, I believe she can be a major contributor to the team.
Q. Coach, I know you said you’ve only met about twice now, but what is something you’ve been impressed by about the team?
STANLEY REDWINE: I’ve really been impressed by how together they are, by how much they communicate well with each other, how they’re one unit. And it’s not just about someone out here, I can run fast and I can run fast long. That’s not it. We have really good leadership, and I think the leadership has brought everyone together, and then training as a unit I think is going to transfer into the meets because when it comes time for a pack to be together, they’re going to sacrifice what they have to in order to run with the pack.
Q. Coach, I know you’ve got two transfers from Oklahoma State, Kyler True also being a local guy. I know they’re both underclassmen, but what do you feel like they can bring to the program?
STANLEY REDWINE: Well, first of all, it’s really good to have Kyler. He’s a Kansan, so he should be here. We’re excited about him being here. But those guys bring a different experience, as well. Whatever their experience they got at Oklahoma State, it was probably pretty good, so they are bringing that here, and that’s a different type of leadership that we’ll have. They’re just fitting right in and competing well, practicing well so far, as well. But they’re really competitive, and I think they’re going to do a really good job for us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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