Cross country to race in conference-only events in abbreviated schedule

The the men's cross country team prepares for a six kilometer race at the J.K. Gold Classic in Augusta, Kansas, on Sept. 1, 2018. (Archive Photo by Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

The cross country teams announced four meets in their abbreviated 2020 season. All of the events the Wildcats plan to participate in will be in conference-affiliated locations, including two in the state of Kansas.

Due to COVID-19, the NCAA has canceled both the regional and national meets for the cross country season.

Kansas State is looking to build off of an experienced group with a combination of 12 returning letter winners for the men’s team and nine for the women’s team.

“We are looking forward to a very competitive season,” cross country head coach Ryun Godfrey said to K-State Sports. “Pushing the start of our competition schedule back a few weeks has allowed us to regularly COVID test and be cleared for practice. The extra time has also allowed us to adapt to a new routine regarding training with social distancing, mask-wearing, and other precautions. The team has been training well as we prepare for our opener at KU in a couple of weeks.”

The adjustment to the new normal has been a hurdle for all fall sports this year.

The Wildcats will open their season up at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, on Saturday, Sept. 19, competing in the Kansas Triangular meet. Kansas, K-State and Iowa State will be the only programs completing at the event. It will be the first time since 2015 that K-State has opened the season in Lawrence.

K-State will then head south to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the Cowboy Jamboree on Saturday, Oct. 3. The Wildcats had recent success at this meet, including five total top-five finishes and back-to-back third-place performances by the women’s team.

The Wildcats will return to the OSU Cross Country course two weeks later to compete in the OSU Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 17, which will be the final meet outside of Kansas in the shortened season.

To finish off the season, the Wildcats will return to Rim Rock Farm on Friday, Oct. 30, for the Big 12 Championship. This will be the first time since 2014 that K-State will participate in a Big 12 Championship inside the state of Kansas.

In 2019, the Wildcats did not qualify for the national meet, but the men’s squad claimed top-10 spots in four of their six meets while the women’s team had two top-10 finishes.

The women’s team will look to sophomore Jaybe Shufelberger to lead the team this season. Last year, Shufelberger posted the best time for a K-State freshman at the Big 12 Championship since 2003 while also earning All-Big 12 honors.

The men’s team will be led by junior Cooper Schroeder who finished in the top 30 at the Big 12 Championship in 2019.