With less than a month until the Big 12 Championships on Nov. 2, the K-State men’s and women’s cross-country teams are heading to the Rim Rock Invitational in Lawrence, Kan. on Saturday. The only Big 12 team they will face is the event’s hosts, the Kansas Jayhawks.
After a slow start to the season, the men’s team is looking to start building momentum. After placing second in their first meet last month while competing against three NCAA affiliated teams — the rest being Kansas junior colleges — the Wildcats went on to take sixth two weeks ago at the Woody Greeno Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. with 157 total points, 129 points more than the first place finishers Nebraska.
If the men want to have a strong meet, they are going to have to rely on their young runners to finish with low times, with three of the top five runners two weeks ago being freshmen. Senior Ryan Hershner, who finished with a time of 26:53.93 at the team’s least meet, is going to have to improve his time and lead his younger teammates if they want any chance of a high finish at the meet.
Freshman Lukas Koch finished was the high finisher for the Wildcats in Lincoln with a time of 26:47.17, earning him a 26th place finish. Koch, along with his fellow freshmen Jeffery Bachman and Brett Bachman, will have to achieve career bests to make their team competitive Saturday.
Junior Fernando Roman will be running in his first race after missing the first two with an injury. Roman, being the second most experienced member on the team, is considered one of the best runners. This race will test how race-ready Roman is and how much he has improved from last year.
The women, on the other hand, are looking to keep the momentum off of their second place finish at the Woody Greeno going as they travel to Lawrence – and attempt to better their seventh place finish there just one year ago. Eight of their runners finished in the top 50, with four finishing in the top 10.
Junior Laura Galvan led the Wildcat’s in Lincoln with a second place finish with a time of 21:24.00. Last year, Galvan finished seventh at the Rim Rock Invitational, running with a time of 20:58.60.
The women are also looking for strong performances out of their young runners, with four freshmen placing in the top fifty a week ago. Freshman runner Morgan Wedekind was the top freshman runner for the Wildcats as she finished in eighth place with a time of 22:26.90. Wedekind was followed by freshmen Maddie Hopfinger (24:02.70), Marie Taylor (24:02.70) and Audrey Schmitz (24:02.80), who placed 44th through 46th respectively.
The Rim Rock Invitational constantly brings some of the most challenging competition the Wildcat’s will see as they prepare to make a run at the Big 12 championships. The Wildcats will have to run faster than they have all season to be competitive in the invitational.