Lokedi Takes 10th, KU Women 27th at NCAA Championships

NCAA Championships
E.P. Tom Sawyer Park \ Louisville, Ky.

Freshman Sharon Lokedi ran to All-American honors Saturday at the NCAA Championships.
KU Women’s Top 5 Finishers (254 Total)
Name Year Time
10. Sharon Lokedi FR 20:04.9
156. Malika Baker JR 21:14.5
183. Nashia Baker JR 21:27.0
195. Lydia Saggau SO 21:35.2
232. Courtney Coppinger JR 22:11.1
Women’s Top-5 Team Finishes (31 Total)
School Points Average
1. New Mexico 49 20:02.6
2. Colorado 129 20:22.8
3. Oregon 214 20:35.1
4. Providence 231 20:36.5
5. NC State 264 20:42.6
27. Kansas 625 21:18.54

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kansas cross country freshman Sharon Lokedi made history Saturday as she and the Jayhawk women’s team competed at the NCAA Championships at E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer Park. Lokedi claimed tenth-place overall, which marked the best individual finish ever by a KU female at the NCAA meet. Lokedi’s performance also led her team to a 27th-place finish in the Kansas women’s first outing at the NCAA Championships in 21 years.
Senior Evan Landes competed as an individual in the men’s 10K race, where he finished 136th overall in a time of 31:17.7
“Sharon was really good today. She ran a great race,” said head coach Stanley Redwine. “Anytime you can do something that’s never been done before in the history of the women’s program, you know you had a special day. It’s a testament to her hard work and hopefully this is a sign of the women’s program moving to more great things.”
Competing in the first national championship meet of her career, Lokedi appeared to be unfazed running side-by-side with many of the top distance runners in the collegiate ranks. Coming off All-Big 12 and All-Region performance in her last two outings the Eldoret, Kenya native carried that momentum into her performance Saturday, running the majority of the race up with the lead pack. She completed the first 2,000 meters of the 6K race in a blazing 6:40.7 and sat in eighth overall.
“I felt good from the start of the race; I was excited and I was so pumped up,” said Lokedi following her competition. “Coach told me to try and run with the top-15 and that was my goal.”
Lokedi remained up with the leaders over the next mile before the front pack began to spread out. She maintained her positioning in the top-10 though and used a strong closing kick over the final mile to tally the best finish by a KU female in the meet’s history. Lokedi crossed the 6K finish in 20:04.9 to claim 10th overall.
The finish earned the freshman All-America honors and made her the second All-American in the women’s program history. Julia Saul claimed the title in 1992 with her 18th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
“I’m just this new freshman and to be able to run with these All-American girls is amazing,” said Lokedi. “I’m happy for my coaches and my team. I’m just so excited. I can’t explain it.”
Six other Jayhawks joined Lokedi in the memorable day at Tom Sawyer Park as the KU women took a team to the national meet for the first time since 1994. With Lokedi leading the group by way of her 10th-place finish, KU saw its next three finishers come across just over 70 seconds later. Junior Malika Baker was the next Crimson and Blue clad runner to cross the finish as she placed 156th in a time of 21:14.5.
Junior Nashia Baker and sophomore Lydia Saggau were 20 seconds behind. Baker traversed the 6K course in 21:27.0 for 183rd, while Saggau cross the finish in 21:35.2 to take 195th. Junior Courtney Coppinger rounded out the KU scoring effort with her finish at 232nd. The Mission Hills, Kansas product posted a final clocking of 22:11.1.
In all, the women’s team amassed 625 points to finish 27th out of 31 teams.
“It is kind of bitter-sweet for me because I wanted the team to do better but, given where we started the year, I’m really happy about what we did today,” said Redwine. “If someone would have told me at the start the year that we’d have an All-American and the team would finish 27th, we would have been really excited. There is still room to get better though, and I’m confident we’ll continue to get better from this. We can look forward to the future of the women’s program.”
Senior Evan Landes was the lone representative for the men’s squad as he competed in his first NCAA Championship meet. The Mulvane, Kansas native got out to a quick start in the 10K race, completing the first 2,000 meters in 5:48.9 and holding firm among the tightly-packed lead group comprised of around 60 runners. Landes was unable to make a move with the leaders around the midway point of the race thought. He fell to 87th as the field began its second loop of the course and moved back to 126th at the 8K checkpoint. He ran the final 2,000 meters in 6:38.2 to finish 136th overall, clocking in with a final 10K time of 31:17.7
Landes’ finish marked the third-straight year a Jayhawk male has claimed a spot among the top-150 at the NCAA meet.
With the cross country season now complete, the Jayhawks will now turn their attention to the indoor track season. Kansas will kick off the track season on Friday, December 4 at the Bob Timmons Challenge to be held in Lawrence. The first events will begin at 3 p.m., inside Anschutz Pavilion.
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