LAWRENCE, KAN. -
The potential of the 2007 women's team has sparked a lot of enthusiasm around Lawrence. Twelve members of last year's squad are set to return for the upcoming season as the Jayhawks continue to progress in the Big 12 and amongst teams nationwide.
With the team overflowing with nine freshmen in 2006, Kansas finished 11th at the Big 12 Championships. However, last season's hardships may be the root of success for the women in the coming years.
"We had a very young team last year, hopefully those athletes have matured and know what to expect," head coach Stanley Redwine said. "Hopefully that can result in us placing at the conference and regional meets and then we can get into the NCAA (Championships)."
Despite their struggles, the Jayhawks undoubtedly created a strong foundation from which to build upon. Senior Lisa Morissey emerged as one of the team's premier runners. She was the first team member to cross the finish line in each of Kansas' last four races and after the first meet in 2006, she never finished lower than second amongst her teammates.
Seniors Alicia McGregor and Hayley Harbert have also raised some eyebrows in anticipation for the 2007 season. McGregor scored in every meet for the Jayhawks in 2006, including a first-place finish for Kansas at the KSU Wildcat Invitational and two second-place finishes. Harbert has indisputably continued to improve as she posted career-best times in both the 5K and 6K a year ago.
"We have some really good seniors that are fired up about the direction of the team and have helped push the young ones up," Redwine said. "It has to be a total team effort in order for the team to excel."
With a dependable upper class in place, the Jayhawks will look to the younger group that produced so many encouraging signs last fall, particularly sophomores Lauren Bonds and Kellie Schneider.
Bonds, a Hutchinson, Kan. native, was consistently a top-four finisher for the Jayhawks and ran a season best time of 22:49 (6K) at the NCAA Pre-Nationals. Her performance helped lead KU to a second-place finish out of 13 schools in the women's open division.
"Lauren's expectations are that she wants to do her best every time and wants to continue to get better; she's a great competitor," Redwine said. "She is a great person who will do anything we ask of her and knows what to expect in order to do a better job this year."
Schneider was another reliable scorer late in the year as the Kenosha, Wis., native ran a season best 22:45.2 at the NCAA Pre-Nationals, placing third among her Kansas teammates.
The incoming freshman class consisting of Amanda Miller, who finished in the top five at the cross country Kansas state championships in each of the last two seasons, Riley Wertenberger, a three-time All-Sunflower League selection, and the reigning Class 6A Kansas state champion in the 3,200-meter run, Kara Windisch, has the team eager to embark upon the 2007 campaign.