Leadership key for inexperienced cross country rosters

Photo by Josh Staab Senior Ryan Hershner leads the wildcats out of the gun. He would go on to finish 9th overall.

In a sport that relies heavily on front runners and leaders to pace the team, the K-State cross country teams will look to a few key seniors to start off on the right foot.

After losing their top runner last year in Martina Tresch, the women’s team will rely on senior Laura Galvan and junior Mary Frances Donnelly to help a team that has eight underclassmen on a roster of 13 runners.

On the men’s side, 11 of the 13 total athletes are underclassmen.

“With the women, we lost one of our top people and we brought in some young people,” head coach Michael Smith said on Friday. “Now, we have probably the deepest seven that we’ve had in a long time, and we still have our number one runner in Laura Galvan.”

The women also have very high expectations in the experienced sophomore Morgan Wedekind, who ran in all six races for the Wildcats and placed 35th at the Big 12 championships last season.

“I’m hopeful that the hole left when we lost Martina Tresch to graduation is filled by Morgan Wedekind, who has made a big jump,” Smith said.

Less certainty exists on the men’s side of the roster, however. Finding a leader for the men’s team will be a priority.

While the roster holds talent, scholarship restraints puts the team behind other Big 12 schools.

“Front runners are a better predictor of success because they score very few points,” Smith said. “What we have is a a more of a nucleus of guys that are all about the same as opposed to a clear front runner. “

While no leader has emerged yet, Smith said he is hopeful that senior Fernando Roman will fill that spot.

Roman has not yet arrived in Manhattan to train with the team, as he is presenting at an academic conference at Ohio State.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him (Monday) and I think that he’s obviously a smart guy, he’s sort of a treasure at Kansas State in the math department and as a student,” Smith said. “He brings good energy and talent to the program. I think that he’ll be one of our guys that we are counting on.”

There is a hope that the young runners on the men’s side can step up and make a statement for the team.

Sophomores Brett and Jeff Bachman, who also ran long-distance in track to help with training, will be two runners that will compete for top spots on the roster.

“The Bachman twins (have jumped out this offseason), those two guys decided last summer to improve,” Smith said. “It is really a decision, because in this sport you have to put in a lot of work, a lot of foundational training.”

The cross country team begins their season at the J.K. Gold Classic in Wichita on Sept. 6.