Last year marked one of the best cross country seasons in recent K-State memory, as the Wildcat runners finished an outstanding season at the Midwest Regional Championships in Springfield, Mo. The women’s team finished in 9th place, while the men battled their way to a 21st-place finish.
The Wildcats were led by All-Americans Sydney Messick and recent graduate Beverly Ramos, who completed one of the best cross country careers in K-State history. Ramos finished 33rd at the NCAA championships in November, making her the 9th All-American in K-State women’s cross country history.
The fall season brings much promise for the Wildcats, as several key runners return to lead the team. On the men’s side, the team will be led by home-grown talents Mitch Loring and Kyle Hanson, juniors. In addition to Loring and Hanson, head coach Michael Smith expects senior Jack Sachse to be a key contributor. Smith spoke to Sachse’s ability as a leader of the team this season.
“Our undisputed leader is Jack Sachse,” Smith said. “He leads by example both at practice and away from athletics. He brings a work ethic and a sense of purpose that the young guys will all emulate.”
As far as experience is concerned, the men’s team will be young but not without experience, as several runners finished well at last year’s regional meet.
On the women’s team, the Wildcats will be led by 2009 All-American and senior Sydney Messick and junior Martina Tresch. Smith spoke very highly of both runners.
“Sydney brings a wealth of experience in both training and competition at the Big 12 level and demonstrates a work ethic that sets the standard for every practice,” he said. “Martina brings a natural leadership quality and infectious positive attitude to training and competition that fosters a sense of ‘team’ in our women.”
The women’s team returns a large number of veteran runners, which will be complemented by a group of young, but talented athletes. With a strong core group of runners, the expectations are high for the Wildcats, who will look to improve on their sixth-place finish at the 2009 Big 12 Championships.
The cross country team has been hitting the trails since June, battling the harsh Kansas heat throughout the summer. Staying healthy is a challenge for any cross country team as the season goes into late November. In terms of preparing for the upcoming season, the Wildcats will look for steady improvement as the season continues.
“Anyone who has ever trained knows that your fitness improves incrementally as you increase your workload,” Smith said. “Our teams have been steadily working since June so that they can be ready to roll in October and November. The whole season is a gradual increase in workload and intensity and then a leveling off of work when the championship season comes around.”
It should be an exciting year for the Wildcat runners, and they take the trails for the first time on Sept. 5 at the Wichita State Gold Classic.