Kansas Ready to Take on League Foes at Big 12 Championships

Meet Preview
Big 12 Championships

Freshman Sharon Lokedi
Setting the Scene
Date Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015
Location Stillwater, Oklahoma
Host Oklahoma State University
Course OSU Cross Country Course
Start Times Women: 10 a.m.
Men: 11 a.m.


Men: 8K | Women: 6K

Delta Timing

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas men’s and women’s cross country teams will head south this weekend for the Big 12 Championships held in Stillwater, Oklahoma on Saturday, Oct. 31. The meet will be held at the OSU Cross Country Course and will feature three nationally-ranked teams in the men’s and women’s races. The starting gun for the men’s 8K is set to kick off the morning at 10 a.m., while the women’s 6K is set to start at 11 a.m.
Kansas will face several of the nation’s top teams at this year’s league championship. In the latest NCAA Division I national rankings, the Big 12 boasts the No. 6-ranked Oklahoma State team on the men’s side and two women’s squads, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, are also ranked among the top-25.
The KU women have high expectations for this meet, especially with one of the deepest and most talented packs the Jayhawks have seen in some time. The group returns five of its top eight finishers from the league meet a season ago.
“I think the women are in the best condition and the best place we’ve been in a long time,” said assistant coach Michael Whittlesey. “What I’m most excited about is seeing how excited they are to compete this weekend. They’re ready to go out there and put forth their best effort, go out there and test themselves.”
The Jayhawks have several who could lead the team this weekend but the top candidate is freshman Sharon Lokedi, who has been KU’s top finisher in both meets she has competed in this year. Juniors Malika Baker, Nashia Baker and Courtney Coppinger have also proven their mettle in the early races this season and could also be all-conference candidates come race’s end Saturday.
“Sharon has done a great job for us this year and has really handled the pressure and the expectations well,” said Whittlesey. “We definitely are looking for her to take the same approach to this meet as she has in her first two races this year and if she does that, she’ll give herself a chance.”
The overall success for the women’s team will depend on the collective success of the top-seven finishers who will likely involve juniors Jennifer Angles and sophomore Lydia Saggau. Saggau already posted a win in KU’s first race of the year at the Bob Timmons Classic, while Angles has been a part of KU’s top-five each time she has hit the trails this year.
The men’s team has seen several solid results throughout the season, as it won the Bob Timmons Classic before taking second at the Rim Rock Classic in early October.
Senior Jacob Morgan is the reigning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year after he claimed fifth at the conference meet last season. He will be joined by fellow senior Evan Landes, who ran to All-Big 12 honors as a junior in 2013. The duo has combined to be among the Jayhawks’ top-three finishers 14 times in their junior and senior seasons and look to continue that streak this weekend.
“I’m looking for the guys’ group to return to the way the raced at the Rim Rock Classic (Oct. 3),” Whittlesey said. “As a team I think we had great composure and good execution of the race plan and that’s how we’ll need to execute at the meet this weekend. If we do that, then we’ll have a great chance to do really well.”
The two veterans will be joined by a host of young, but talented, runners who will be seeing action in their first or second conference championship. Freshman Dylan Hodgson was the Jayhawks’ top finisher at the Bob Timmons Classic on Sept. 1. Sophomores Chris Melgares and Carson Vickroy gained valuable experience in the Big 12 races last year as freshmen, while juniors James Hampton and Daniel Koech will also look to make their mark in the second-career league race.
“There are several teams that will be in the mix this weekend,” concluded Whittlesey. “It’s obviously Oklahoma State’s home course so they have the advantage there. We’ll take into consideration how we think they will approach the race as well as some of the other teams that will be there, but we also need to do the things that we can control that will help us perform at our best. If we keep both of those things in mind, both our men’s and women’s groups should be successful.”
The Jayhawks will return home to host the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships for the first time on Friday, Nov. 13. The women’s 6K will kick the day off at noon with the men’s 10K slated to start at 1 p.m.
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