K-State cross-country prepares for Big 12 Championship with meet in Illinois

The K-State men's cross-country team warms up on a trail during an early morning practice at Frank Anneberg Park on Oct. 8, 2015. (File Photo by Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

The Kansas State cross-country team will compete in its fourth meet of the season today as the team competes in the Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria, Illinois.

It’s one of six meets listed on the team’s schedule, but the last that isn’t either the Big 12 Championships or the NCAA Regional meet.

The Wildcats have had a fair season so far. Senior Morgan Wedekind has looked immortal this year, most recently finishing fourth in the Cowboy Jamboree Sept. 24, with a time of 18 minutes, 26 seconds. It wasn’t Wedekind’s first top-five finish this season either. She won the team’s opening race back on Sept. 2.

Today’s race, however, will present different challenges, according to K-State cross-country coach Ryun Godfrey. Though the Cowboy Jamboree was a good race, Godfrey said the field at today’s race will be bigger and have more teams from conferences outside the Big 12, namely the SEC.

“It’ll be a little bit different story than it has been the last couple of weeks in terms of the depth of the competition,” Godfrey said.

Because of the meet’s size, a top-10 finish will be a good result, Godfrey said. The diversity of the competition will also make it a good tuneup for the Big 12 Championships, which are scheduled for Oct. 29 in Lubbock, Texas.

Wedekind will, as usual, anchor the women’s side, Godfrey said. Junior Colton Donahue has been leading on the men’s side, but the men’s group has a number of runners who can lead at any time.

Freshman Katie Condon is out with an injury. Her absence will make a good score harder to achieve because the top-five finishers for each team determine the team’s overall score, Godfrey said. Losing her means there will be more of a gap between the fourth and fifth female runner than there might otherwise have been if Condon hadn’t been hurt.

But even if this year doesn’t play out perfectly for the Wildcats, Godfrey said there is reason to be optimistic about the futures of both the men’s and women’s teams. On the women’s side, for instance, the core of the group is full of youth.

“I would say three of our five next year will be underclassman,” Godfrey said. “That’s a good thing because we brought in some good recruits.”

On the men’s side, older runners could prove key.

“On the guy’s side, it’ll be a veteran group because all of these guys are coming back and we have a couple guys redshirted,” Godfrey said. “Next year will probably be our stronger year.”

The women’s team is scheduled to run first, with the race starting at 3:30 p.m., followed by the men, who are scheduled to start at 4:15.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.