Cross country women look to improve on last year’s performance

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    Emily Dittemore has faced much adversity during her career as a runner with the women’s cross country team. After struggling through injuries during her sophomore year, she overcame the obsticales and became an active member of the 2007 team.
    After returning from injury, the cross country team finished 12th in the Big 12 Conference championship meet, just three points behind Kansas.
    Dittemore said she has learned from the adversity in her career and has her sights on proving to the Big 12 that K-State can compete this year.
    “I really believe that this is our year,” Dittemore said. “We have come away empty-handed the past few years, and our team is bound and determined not to let that happen again.”
    The team made its first step toward its goal of finishing higher in the conference standings on Saturday, as they finished first at the Wichita State Gold Classic. 
    Senior runner Beverly Ramos led the Wildcats, taking first place in the women’s 4K race. Ramos crossed the finish line with a time of 13:33.97, 30 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Kellyn Johnson of host team Wichita State.
    Head coach Michael Smith said he was impressed with Ramos as well as the women’s race as a team.
    “It was a dominating performance,” Smith said.
    With the first-place finish and the performance of Ramos in Saturday’s meet, Smith said he thinks the women’s team can finish in the top half of the conference at the end of the year.   
    Dittemore will have her first chance to race against a Big 12 foe in the team’s next meet on Sep. 20 in Lincoln, Neb. She said it will be a good opportunity for the team to measure its progress.
    “I think this will be a good meet for our team because it puts us up against another Big 12 school,” Dittemore said. “Nebraska is a good team for us to measure ourselves against.”
    Smith said Nebraska is a good matchup and an indicator of where his team stands. He said his goal for the meet is to finish near Nebraska, which finished third in last year’s conference championship, in the standings. 
    “They are probably better than us on paper,” Smith said. “But we will see when we get up there … Nebraska is such a strong team, but if we can get some great performances out of our three through seven runners, anything is possible.”
    Following the Nebraska meet, Dittemore and the team will have two meets to prepare for its showing at the Big 12 championship meet.
    Smith said he treats the meets leading up to the Big 12 championships as an opportunity to train and prepare his runners for the conference meet.
    “In this sport, you get measured by how you perform at the Big 12 meet,” Smith said. “So all of these other meets have to be used as tools to get you ready for that and that is our focus.”
    Looking to conquer yet another obstacle in her K-State career, Dittemore said she is confident in this team and believes that they have become stronger over the course of summer training and their first meet of the year.
    “This year our team collectively has gotten stronger,” Dittemore said. “If we all do what we are capable of doing, we should turn a lot of heads by our performance.
    “Sometimes when everyone is counting you out, that is the best time to shine, and I am confident that this is our year to shine.”

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