KU Cross Country Ready to Kick Off 2015 at Bob Timmons Classic

Meet Preview
Bob Timmons Dual Classic

The KU women will look to collect their fourth-consecutive win at the season-opening meet.
Setting the Scene
Date Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015
Location Lawrence, Kan.
Host University of Kansas
Course Rim Rock Farm
Start Times Women – 6:30 p.m. (CST)
Men – 7 p.m. (CST)


Men: 6K | Women: 5K

Heartland Timing

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas men’s and women’s cross country teams will kick off their 2015 campaigns Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the Bob Timmons Classic at Rim Rock Farm. The women’s 5K race will get the evening started at 6:30 p.m., while the starting gun for the men’s 6K is slated to go off at 7 p.m.  The KU men will try to extend their unbeaten streak at the season-opening meet, which now sits at 11-straight, while the women will be going for their 10th win in the last 11 Bob Timmons meets.
The Jayhawks will be joined by teams from Kansas State, Missouri State, Minnesota, Emporia State and UMKC.
The KU cross country teams enter 2015 with elevated expectations with several key runners set to return for the Jayhawks. The KU women lost just one runner from the squad that competed at last year’s NCAA Regional Championships and will see the return of All-Big 12 and All-Region performer, junior Hannah Richardson, who was sidelined last season due to injury. A strong supporting cast will consist of juniors Nashia Baker, Courtney Coppinger and Rachel Simon, each of whom are back after making huge strides a year ago. A host of other Jayhawks are primed to emerge and could make this year’s KU women’s squad one of the deepest in the Big 12.
“I’m excited because the ladies have come into the season with really great fitness and a lot of motivation,” said assistant cross country coach Michael Whittlesey. “They’ve been attacking the base runs and the tempo runs that we’ve been doing the last couple weeks and I’m really intrigued to see how the pack unfolds. We should have a very deep pack up front.”
The Bob Timmons will give the coaches a clear look of how the women’s pack could stack up, as all of the runners that competed for KU last season at the NCAA Championships are scheduled to compete at Rim Rock Tuesday, including Nashia Baker, who was KU’s top finisher in all but one of her team’s races last season. Juniors Kelli McKenna, Simon, and sophomores Alaina Schroeder and Grace Morgan are also scheduled to be in the KU pack this week, each of whom were consistent members of the Jayhawks’ top-five last season.  
The Jayhawk men see the return of cornerstone seniors Jacob Morgan and Evan Landes in 2015. Morgan was the team’s top performer last season as he ran to All-Big 12 and All-Region honors. Landes was also an All-Big 12 and All-Region performer in 2013 before he was forced to sit out last year with an injury. However, the senior duo will be watching from the sidelines Tuesday as they size up how the rest of their squad is shaping up for 2015.
“We’re looking for the guys to have a really strong presence up front,” said Whittlesey. “A lot of the guys have really stepped forward this summer with their training and are looking really good right now. If we can control things up front and execute late in the race, I think we’ll have a really good meet.”
The men’s squad will field a young lineup this week as eight of the 11 scheduled to run are underclassmen. Headlining the group will be sophomores Carson Vickroy and James Hampton who each had breakout seasons as freshmen and competed for the men’s squad at the NCAA Midwest Regional. Other Jayhawks to keep an eye on are senior Brandon Bernal and sophomores Ben Burchstead, Daniel Koech and Adel Yoonis.
The KU men have had a good track record at the Bob Timmons Classic, having never come in any place other than first as a team. A Jayhawk has also won the individual title in three of the last four seasons.
“The kids are just excited about competing,” concluded Whittlesey. “It’s an early season meet but they’re ready to get out there, put on the jerseys and get the season started.”
Following the Bob Timmons Classic, the Jayhawks will have over a month off before returning to the trails at Rim Rock Farm. Kansas will host the Rim Rock Classic at its home course on Saturday, Oct. 3. The men’s 8K race will begin at 9 a.m., while the women will hit the course for their 6K race at 10 a.m.
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