MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State cross country teams are back in action as they compete in the Midwest Regional Championships on Friday at the MSU Cross Country Course in Springfield, Mo. First, the women will run the 6K at noon and the men will run the 10K at 1:15 p.m.
The Wildcats are attempting to qualify for the NCAA Championships on November 17 at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. In order to qualify, the Wildcat teams have to place in the top two or earn a position as at-large teams.
Individuals can also qualify for the NCAA Championships. They can qualify by either finishing in the top four while not being on an advancing team or through at-large selections.
Last season, the Wildcat women finished 14th by finishing with 461 points while the men finished 22nd, scoring 663 points. Junior Martina Tresch had the best overall finish by earning a ninth-place finish. This is the first time the Wildcats have ran at the MSU Cross Country Course since 2009 when the women claimed ninth place and the men placed 21st.
On the women’s side, 35 teams will participate in Friday’s championship. Three of the teams are ranked, including two Big 12 rivals. The Wildcat women will compete against Iowa State, the No. 2 team in the nation and the two-time defending Midwest Regional Champions fresh off their second straight Big 12 championship. No. 21 Oklahoma State will also participate in the meet. Minnesota is the third ranked team, coming into the Midwest Regional Championships ranked 28th in the nation.
Coach Michael Smith is looking for the women to build on their strong performance at the Big 12 Championships with another strong showing at the Midwest Regionals.
“The purpose of this competition is to close out the season with our best performance,” Smith said. “We ran really well at the Big 12 Championships. Our women performed at a level we expected them to and other teams did not reach their expectations, so we finished higher than it looked like we would on paper. Let’s carry that momentum into the regional championships.”
Smith also looks forward to seeing All Big-12 sophomore Laura Galvan, who is having a breakout season, take the next step toward becoming one of the best runners in the country.
“Galvan has an opportunity to take the next step from being a regionally competitive athlete to a nationally competitive athlete,” Smith said. “Runners at the NCAA meet are nationally competitive. She is that good in training, the workouts she does, the way she has conducted herself and the talent she has all indicate to me that she is a nationally competitive athlete. Now she has to prove it in competition.”
In Galvan’s development as a cross country runner, there is only one thing left for her to realize her potential according to Smith.
“All that is left with her development is becoming a nationally competitive athlete. I think she can get there and I hope she gets there this year,” Smith said. “If not, it has been a productive season and I look forward to seeing what she does during the upcoming track season and next season in cross country.”
On the men’s side, 30 teams will compete. The Wildcat men will see four ranked opponents, including three familiar Big 12 rivals. No. 1 Oklahoma State, the five-time defending Big 12 champions, has won the Midwest Regionals six out of the last seven seasons including last season. Oklahoma is the No. 8 team in the nation. Tulsa, a team the Wildcats competed against earlier in the season, checks in at No. 19 and Kansas is ranked No. 29.
Although the 2012 cross country season may be coming to a close, Smith believes there is no off-season and wants runners from both teams to learn from one season to the next.
“There is really not an end for these runners because there is another season coming. They get to build their momentum from one season to the next. That is what allows them to learn at a rapid rate because they are constantly engaged and challenging themselves,” Smith said. “Runners either rise up to the challenge or they fade away and disappear.”