Jayhawks Set to Host NCAA Regional at Rim Rock Friday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas cross country teams are in full gear as they prepare to host the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships on Friday, Nov. 13 at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence. The Jayhawk men look to post their third top-six finish in the last four years at the regional meet with the help of senior Jacob Morgan, who earned All-Region honors by way of his seventh-place finish at the event in 2014. The women’s squad hopes to carry the momentum forward after its program-high fourth-place finish at the Big 12 Championships two weeks ago.
The women’s 6K race will kick off the day at noon and will be followed by the men’s 10K, which is set to go off at 1 p.m. The men’s team will look to return to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2006, while the women, who last qualified for nationals in 1994, are primed to better last year’s 14th-place finish.
The KU women will once again send a talented and experienced group to the Regional as four of those scheduled to run this weekend have competed in two or more Midwest Regional Championship meets; however, three were part of the squad that took fifth at the regional meet in 2013. Freshman Sharon Lokedi has been the women’s leader in three meets this year and is a candidate to garner all-region honors for the first time in her KU career.
Joining Lokedi at the NCAA Regional are juniors Jennifer Angles, Nashia Baker, Malika Baker, Courtney Coppinger and Kelli McKenna. A tight, well-placed pack will be a necessity if the Jayhawks want an opportunity to grab one of the coveted at-large bids for the NCAA Championships.
Sophomores Lydia Saggau and Hannah Dimmick will each race in their first regional meet after both have put together solid seasons for the Jayhawks. Saggau was a winner already this season at the Bob Timmons Classic and was among the Jayhawks’ top-four finishers in her other two outings this year.
The Jayhawk men will see a strong group run on their home course this week, six of whom will be competing in their second or more regional meets. Morgan turned in another all-conference performance with his fifth-place finish at the Big 12 Championships two weeks ago in leading his team to a fifth-place finish. Evan Landes will look to snare All-Region honors for the second time in his career. The seniors will try to assure that the race will not be their last of the season and aim to be Kansas’ top-two finishers for the fourth time this year.
Juniors James Hampton, Daniel Koech and sophomore Chris Melgares hope to join Morgan as part of the Jayhawks’ lead pack. Each have been among KU’s top-five finishers in three outings this year.
A pair of underclassmen round out the men’s squad this week. Sophomore Carson Vickroy and freshman Dylan Hodgson have both been consistent finishers near the top of the men’s pack this season.
The men will have one new obstacle to face Friday, which they have yet to encounter in 2015. The group will be competing at the 10K distance for the first time this year, which is quite a change after running 8K races for the majority of the season. The starting gun for the 6.25 mile race is slated to go off at 1 p.m.
Thirty-one teams earn berths to the NCAA Championships, which will be run in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, Nov. 21. The top-two teams from each of the nine regions automatically qualify for the Championships. Another 13 at-large teams will be added to the field and announced on Monday, Nov. 16. In addition, four individual competitors from each region, who are not part of qualifying teams, will also earn their way into the Championships field. These individuals must finish in the top-25 at the regional championship to qualify. Additionally, the NCAA committee will choose two individuals at large.
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