Cross country opens season in Wichita

Photo by Scott Weaver | K-State Athletics Senior Laura Galvan competes in the Rim Rock Invitational in Lawrence on Oct. 5, 2013. Galvan placed eighth with a time of 21:21.44.

Senior runner Laura Galvan said she remembers the feeling of having her entire team miss the NCAA Championships last season. Because of this, she has her sights set on keeping it as a one-year streak.

“It’s there and it won’t go away,” Galvan said. “When you have something sticking in there that’s not feeling right, you just want to find a way to get it out.”

After several weeks of practice, Galvan and company will be able to rid the memories of season’s past and open the 2014 season in Wichita on Saturday.

The J.K. Gold Classic is a 4K event for the women and a 6K event for the men, which are both shorter distances than most races they will face this season.

It will serve as a warm-up of sorts, for head coach Michael Smith and his team to assess where they are at individually and as a team.

“It can be hot in Kansas this time of year, and we don’t have to go far, so it’s easier to just go down there and get this competition in,” Smith said. “We can use it as a good measuring stick, which is why I like to go there.”

For the women, the Wildcats will be looking for how many of the young runners will step up and prove to be fast enough to compete with Galvan as front runners.

“We’ve got more depth than maybe we have had in the past,” Smith said. “Our fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh runners will be better than they’ve been in a number of years. What we don’t know is if we have enough penetrators, that is the key to be successful, having people run at the front.”

For the men’s squad, the question is if any of the young team can step up and be lead runners. Senior Fernando Roman and sophomores Brett and Jeff Bachman all seem as good of candidates as anyone to make that leap to distinguish themselves this season.

“We have freshmen and sophomores that are connecting and gelling well, so we could be reasonably competitive in the middle,” Smith said. “I don’t think we have a front runner unless someone distinguishes themselves.”

With all the youth and inexperience on the roster, the men’s team is looking to have glimpses of a team that could compete in the Big 12.

“I’m hopeful and optimistic that we’ll demonstrate something in Wichita that shows that we want to be more competitive in the Big 12 then we have in the past,” Smith said.