Jayhawks Journey to Louisville for NCAA Championships Saturday

Meet Preview
NCAA Championships

Freshman Sharon Lokedi
Setting the Scene
Date Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015
Location Louisville, Ky.
Host University of Louisville
Course E.P ‘Tom’ Sawyer Park
Start Times Women: 11 a.m. (CT)
Men: Noon (CT)


Men: 10K | Women: 6K

Prime Time Timing

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas women’s cross country team is set to compete at the NCAA Championships to be held at E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday. The Jayhawks are competing as a team at the national meet for the first time since 1994. Senior Evan Landes is the lone representative for the KU men as he will run at the NCAA Championships for the first time. The women’s 6K race will kick the day off at 11 a.m. (CT), with the men’s 10K to follow at noon (CT).
“It’s really exciting for the program to be here this weekend,” said head coach Stanley Redwine. “Every year we talk about making it to this meet as a team and we’ve always just come up a little short, so it’s definitely a big deal to the athletes to final get to this point. They’ve endured the process and worked their tails off in order to get to this point, so we’re all looking forward to Saturday.”
The women’s team is appearing at the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1994, when the KU squad claimed an 18th-place finish at nationals after it won the Midwest Regional for the second-straight year.
The Jayhawks are coming off two stellar performances in their last two outings. On Oct. 31, the women raced to their highest finish ever as members of the Big 12 Conference when they finished fourth. Two weeks later, Kansas hosted the Midwest Regional Championships on its home course at Rim Rock Farm. The KU runners took fifth as a team, tying for the team’s highest finish at the regional meet under Redwine. That fifth-place finish earned the Jayhawks one of 13 at-large bids to the NCAA Championship field of 31 this weekend.
The women have been led by freshman Sharon Lokedi in four of their five outings this season. The Eldoret, Kenya native raced to All-Big 12 and All-Region honors during her first year as a Jayhawk and will look to lead her team once again this weekend in Louisville. Lokedi will vie to become the second All-American in program history and the first time since Julia Saul ran to an 18th-place finish at Nationals in 1992. The All-America title will be given to any individual that finishes inside the top-40 this Saturday in Louisville.
“For Sharon to be an All-American as a freshman would be a huge statement,” said Redwine. “This is a tough meet though because everyone has that same goal. This will be the toughest race, both mentally and physically, which Sharon will see this year and it will just come down to who is most prepared for it.”
While Lokedi has been the leader for her team for the majority of the season, it has been the Jayhawks’ depth that has carried them through to Nationals. Sophomore Lydia Saggau has been among her team’s top-four finishers in each of her four outings this season, which includes a win at the Bob Timmons Classic on Sept. 1 and a top-25 finish at the Midwest Regional last week.
The rest of the women’s pack set to race this weekend is made up of an experienced group of veterans. Juniors Nashia and Malika Baker have been in the Jayhawks’ top five in four of the five meets this season and both are coming off top-35 finishes at both the Big 12 and Regional Championships. Junior Jennifer Angles has also had a breakout season for her squad, as she has been a scorer in three of the team’s meets this season.
Juniors Kelli McKenna and Courtney Coppinger have also been steady presences inside KU’s lead pack this season after they kicked off the year with top-10 finishes at the Bob Timmons Classic and the Rim Rock Classic.
On the men’s side, senior Evan Landes will go up against the nation’s best at the NCAA Championships for the first time in his KU career. The Mulvane, Kansas product has run to All-Big 12 and All-Region honors twice during his time in Lawrence, which includes top-15 finishes in both meets this year. Landes claimed ninth overall at the Midwest Regional last week, which earned him one of four individual at-large bids out of the region to the National Championships.
“I truly believe that Evan is talented enough to be an All-American this weekend,” said Redwine. “I think that’s always been his goal so my hopes are that he can race up with the front of the pack and make that dream come true.”
Landes will look to become the 22nd All-American in Kansas cross country history when he takes the trails this weekend. Colby Wissel was the last Jayhawk to claim All-America honors when earned the honor in back-to-back years in 2006 and 2007.
Both races from the NCAA Championships can be seen live via web stream at NCAA.com. The women’s race will begin at 11 a.m. (CT) with the men’s race to follow at noon (CT). Get updates and results from throughout the day by following on Twitter at @KansasXC and logging on to KUAthletics.com.
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