Morgan Claims All-Region Honors at Midwest Championships

NCAA Midwest Regionals
Newman Golf Course \ Peoria, Ill.

Junior Jacob Morgan earned All-Region honors with his seventh-place finish Friday.
KU Men’s Top 5 Finishers (207 Total)
Name Year Time
7. Jacob Morgan JR 30:17.6
69. James Wilson SR 31:11.8
78. Chris Melgares FR 31:19.4
82. Tyler Yunk SO 31:21.8
101. Carson Vickroy FR 31:38.9


KU Men’s Top 5 Team Finishes
(29 Total)
School Points Average
1. Oklahoma State 63
2. Tulsa 77
3. Iowa State 110
4. Minnesota 128
5. Illinois 137
13. Kansas 330
KU Women’s Top 5 Finishers (222 Total)
Name Year Time
85. Nashia Baker SO 21:35.1
89. Kelli McKenna SO 21:37.4
95. Courtney Coppinger SO 21:41.0
96. Rachel Simon SO 21:41.0
104. Hayley Francis JR 21:49.3


KU Women’s Top 5 Team Finishes
(32 Total)
School Points Average
1. Iowa State 66
2. Minnesota 125
3. Bradley 175
4. Tulsa 180
5. Oklahoma State 191
14. Kansas 469


PEORIA, Ill. – A seventh-place finish from Junior Jacob Morgan highlighted solid outings from the Kansas men’s and women’s cross country teams Friday at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships hosted by Bradley University at Newman Golf Course. Morgan’s top-10 finish led his team to a 13th-place finish, while sophomore Nashia Becker was the top Jayhawk on the women’s side as she led her squad to a 14th-place finish.
“I thought the men got themselves out in a good position but some things happened late in the race that hurt us,” said assistant coach Michael Whittlesey. “Jacob ran great race from start to finish. He should be really proud of the way he competed today and hopefully it’s going to be good enough of a performance to extend his season to next weekend.”
Morgan, who hails from Topeka, Kansas, never strayed from the lead group of 25 during the 10K race on a cold and blustery day in Peoria. The junior set up a firm position among the top-10 runners less than 2,000 meters into the race and never faltered, moving up to as high as seventh through the first half of the race. After the 5K checkpoint, Morgan kicked it into another gear as he took over the lead with less than 3,000 meters to go. He was followed closely by a host of other competitors though as the lead pack of 15 runners were all within three seconds of the Jayhawk at the 7K mark.
Morgan gave up the lead but didn’t fall far from the front, running the final 3,000 meters in 8:15 to post a top-10 finish at the Regional meet, just the second by a KU male in the last seven seasons. Morgan clocked in with a 10K time of 30:17.6 to finish seventh-overall which marked the highest finish by a KU male since 2007. His high finish also earned him All-Region accolades for the second time in his career. Morgan first claimed the honor when he ran for Colorado State in the Mountain Region Championships a year ago.
He will now be forced to wait and see if we will be selected to earn an individual at-large bid to next week’s NCAA National Championships. The field will be announced on Monday, Nov. 17.
Senior James Wilson also had his sights set on a top-25 finish and a spot on the All-Region team, however an unfortunate trip-up dashed those hopes just over halfway through the race. The Abilene, Kansas product started his race up there with his teammate, Morgan, climbing as high as seventh during the first half of the competition. Wilson was tripped and fell between the 5K and 6K checkpoints, which cost him valuable time and positions but he powered through, finishing in 31:11.8 which was good enough for 69th.
The next three Kansas scorers all finished inside the top-101. Freshman Chris Melgares posted a 78th-place and completed his first 10K in 31:19.4. Sophomore Tyler Yunk finished in KU’s top-five for the second-straight year with his 82nd-place finish in 31:21.8. Freshman Carson Vickroy rounded out the team scoring by finishing 101st in 31:38.9.
The men amassed 330 points, which was good enough for a 13th-place finish.
On the women’s side, Nashia Baker was the top KU finisher for the fifth time this season. The sophomore out of Lansing, Kansas traversed the 6K course in 21:35.1, earning herself an 85th-place finish. Fellow sophomore Kelli McKenna stuck close with her teammate throughout the race and crossed the finish just over two seconds later. The Madison, Wisconsin product clocked in at 21:37.4 for 89th place.
“I thought the women raced how they needed to race but they just got out too slow,” said Whittlesey. “They got caught behind a big group at the start and it cost them at the end of the race.”
Sophomore Courtney Coppinger led her squad through the first 2,000 meters before handing the lead off to her teammate, Baker. She also helped keep the Kansas pack tight, posting a time less than four seconds after McKenna at 21:41.0. Coppinger’s time earned her a 95th-place finish.
Rachel Simon and Hayley Francis rounded out the KU scoring effort. Simon was the fourth Jayhawk to tally a top-100 finish after she came in at 96th in 21:41.0. The junior captain, Francis, completed her race in 21:49.3 and finished 104th overall.
The women’s finishes saw the squad total 469 points and place 14th out of the 32-team field.
With the 2014 cross country season now complete for the majority of the Jayhawk team, the Jayhawks will now turn their attention toward the indoor track & field campaign, slated to begin in just three weeks. Kansas will kick off the season with the Bob Timmons Challenge on Saturday, Dec. 6 in Lawrence at the meet scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., inside Anschutz Pavilion. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.