Morgan Leads KU Men to Fifth-Place Finish at Big 12 Championships

Big 12 Championships
Rim Rock Farm \ Lawrence, Kan.

Sophomores Nashia Backer (right) and Rachel Simon (left) finished side-be-side in leading the KU women to an eighth-place finish Saturday morning at the Big 12 Championships.
KU Men’s Top 5 Finishers (81 Total)
Name Year Time
5. Jacob Morgan JR 24:16.2
21. James Wilson SR 24:49.7
30. Chris Melgares FR 25:00.2
38. Tyler Yunk SO 25:24.1
45. Carson Vickroy FR 25:37.5


KU Men’s Top 5 Team Finishes
(9 Total)
School Points Average
1. Oklahoma State 27
2. Oklahoma 65
3. Iowa State 80
4. Texas 84
5. Kansas 123
KU Women’s Top 5 Finishers (93 Total)
Name Year Time
36. Nashia Baker SO 21:40.7
37. Rachel Simon SO 21:41.1
40. Kelli McKenna SO 21:46.1
45. Courtney Coppinger SO 21:52.5
50. Alaina Schroeder FR 21:58.6


KU Women’s Top 5 Team Finishes
(10 Total)
School Points Average
1. Iowa State 29
2. West Virginia 58
3. Baylor 70
4. Oklahoma State 130
5. Oklahoma 154
8. Kansas 201


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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas junior Jacob Morgan made the hometown crowd proud as he hung with the leaders from start to finish on his home course and helped the Kansas men to a fifth-place finish at the Big 12 Championships Saturday morning at Rim Rock Farm. Morgan tallied a fifth-place individual finish, which earned him All-Big 12 accolades and saw him named the league’s Newcomer of the Year. The Kansas women notched an eighth-place finish behind sophomore Nashia Baker’s 36th-place run.
“The men didn’t leave anything out there and gave everything they had today,” said head coach Stanley Redwine. “Jacob did everything he could do to try and win the race. He came up a little short but still should be really proud of how he competed. He had a great day.”
Morgan, who hails from Topeka, Kansas, was nothing short of spectacular as he traversed his way through the 8K race at Kansas’ 30-year home course at Rim Rock Farm. The men’s race, which featured four of the top-30 ranked teams in the nation, began at a relatively slow pace, resulting in a tightly packed group of runners battling for the lead through the first half of the race.
The KU men firmly asserted themselves in the middle of that lead pack, with senior James Wilson, freshman Chris Melgares and Morgan all swapping the lead at various points in the race. After the competitors moved past the 6K checkpoint, the field began to spread out but Morgan stuck right with the lead group that was pushing the pace.
With less than 500 meters to go, Morgan was shoulder-to-shoulder with five runners jockeying for the lead as they headed into the home stretch. The junior was unable to keep up with the impressive finishing kick of the eventual champion, Oklahoma State’s Kirubel Erassa, but came across the finish just eight seconds later to tally a fifth-place finish in 24:16.2.
Morgan’s finish is the highest by a Jayhawk at the Big 12 meet since 2007, when Colby Wissel also claimed fifthplace. A transfer from Colorado State, Morgan was the highest finisher among first-year competitors at the Big 12 meet, which earned him the conference’s Newcomer of the Year honors. The award was claimed by a KU male for the first time. 
The next four Jayhawks to score all placed within the top-45 finishers. Crossing the finish just over 30 seconds later than Morgan was Wilson, who posted a 21st-place finish with his time of 24:49.7. Melgares was next, finishing in 30th after he completed his race in 25:00.2.
Rounding out the KU scoring effort was sophomore Tyler Yunk (38th, 25:24.1) and freshman Carson Vickroy (45th, 25:37.5).
The Jayhawk men tallied a fifth-place finish in the team standings after tallying 123 points. The finish marked the sixth time in Big 12 history and second time in three years that the Kansas men finished in the top-five of the team standings.
For the fourth-straight race, Nashia Baker was the top finisher for the KU women, leading the Jayhawks from wire-to-wire. The Lansing, Kansas native worked hard to stay within striking distance of the lead pack, who got the 6K race started at a quick pace. The sophomore was followed closely by teammates Rachel Simon and Kelli McKenna, who never strayed more than 10 seconds behind the lead Jayhawk.
The KU trio worked their way up several spots as they stormed down the final straightaway, with Baker claiming 36th with her time of 21:40.7. Simon followed closely behind after she notched a 37th-place finish in 21:41.1. McKenna was the third Jayhawk to come across the finish, placing three spots behind Simon in 40th overall. The sophomore posted a 6K time of 21:46.1, the fastest 6K time of her young career.
“Eighth place is not where the women wanted to be, but we had some individuals that I thought did a really good job,” said Redwine. “We went out a little too hard in the beginning and that hurt us at the end. You could tell Nashia wanted to do well on her home course and went out a little too hard at the beginning, but I’m proud of her and proud of what she did today.”
The next two Kansas scorers were sophomore Courtney Coppinger, who took 45th in 21:52.5 and freshman Alaina Schroeder who was 50th in 21:58.6.
The women took eighth in the overall team standings after amassing 201 points on the day.
Both Jayhawk squads will now turn their attention to the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships to be held on Friday, Nov. 14 in Peoria, Illinois. The teams will look to post high finishes and extend their seasons by qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet the following weekend.
“The next race is a totally different race, especially on the men’s side because it’s a 10K,” said Redwine of the NCAA Regional meet. “We just need to be ready on that day and hopefully the experience we picked up today will pay off in Peoria.” The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.