Jayhawks Ready for Tough Test at Pre-Nationals
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After strong outings in their first three meets of the year, the Kansas cross country teams will travel to Terre Haute, Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 18 to compete at the 2014 Indiana State Pre-Nationals Invitational. The Jayhawks will face their largest field and toughest competition thus far in the season as 158 teams, including 16 of the nation’s top-30 teams on the men’s and women’s sides, are scheduled to compete.
In order to qualify for the NCAA Championships and have a chance at that National title, teams must gain the necessary points to get into the meet late into the fall. During the season, several large, competitive meets fill each team’s schedule, but few larger than the meet that takes place in the same city as the National Championships.
The men’s race is sure to be a competitive one with 11 top-30 teams slated to compete, including No. 1-ranked Colorado and No. 2-ranked Oregon. The race will give the Jayhawks a good litmus test as to where they stand midway through this 2014 campaign, especially as Kansas will face almost all the teams they will see in the meets leading up to the NCAA Championships.
The Jayhawk men’s team will be led by junior Jacob Morgan, who paced the team with his first-place finish two weeks ago at the Rim Rock Classic, claiming his first collegiate individual title. Others expected to join Morgan at the top of the men’s pack are senior James Wilson, sophomore Tyler Yunk and freshman Chris Melgares.
Other runners hoping to score for the KU men’s team will be junior Brandon Bernal, sophomore James Hampton and freshmen Carson Vickroy, Juan del Azar, Adel Yoonis and Ben Burchstead.
The KU women’s team is expected to be led by sophomore Nashia Baker and freshman Grace Morgan, who each have spent large amounts of time at the front of the women’s pack already this season. The women’s team’s success, however, will be dependent on the collective pack which will include a young, but talented, group of underclassmen.
Sophomores Malika Baker and Rachel Simon posted impressive times in their first two meets of 2014, while sophomore Kelli McKenna has also been a part of the KU top-five on two occasions this year. Those three, along with the veteran leadership of junior Hayley Francis could prove to be a potent lineup that could content with several of the top teams in the nation.
Other women to watch at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course will be sophomores Courtney Coppinger and Jennifer Angles as well as freshman Alaina Schroeder.
The women’s 6K is set to begin at 10 a.m., while the men’s 8K will kick-off at 10:35 a.m. Log on to KUAthletics.com for complete results and a recap of the day’s events.
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