Kansas State’s Laura Galvan women’s cross country team will complete her season when she competes in the NCAA Championships on Saturday at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.
The sophomore will face the best runners in the nation at 11 a.m., while the men’s championship race will be at 12:15 p.m.
Galvan has raced at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park before, as she ran to a time of 20:52.6 at the Pre-National Invitational in October on her way to finish in 36th place.
K-State coach Michael Smith is glad Galvan has already run the course once and believes that experience can come in handy.
“When we were at the Pre-National meet, we went there for a reason,” Smith said. “We wanted to race good runners on the NCAA Championships course and we were fortunate it was a crowded race with a lot of good teams.
This is the 32nd year of NCAA-sponsored women’s cross country. During that time span, the Wildcats have qualified either an individual or team to the NCAA meet in 25 out of the 32 years (13 teams, 12 individuals).
It also marks the fifth consecutive year the Wildcat women have been represented at the NCAA Championships.
Of the current Big 12 schools, only West Virginia and K-State women have qualified an individual or as a team to the championships in each of the last five years.
Last season, junior Martina Tresch raced to a 47th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
In 2010, the Wildcats as a team placed 25th. Beverly Ramos reached back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2008 and 2009 as a junior and senior, respectively. She finished 55th in 2008 and earned a spot on the USTFCCCA Cross Country All-America team in 2009 by placing 33rd.
In all, 31 teams and 38 individuals who earned at-large bids will be participating in Saturday’s championship meet on the women’s side, with the top 40 finishers earning All-America honors.
Galvan qualified as the final at-large bid for NCAA Championships by finishing seventh at the Midwest Regional Championships last Friday with a time of 20:45.72.
Galvan will see the strongest competition she has faced all season. Every ranked team in the nation will compete for the championship, including three familiar teams — No. 3 Iowa State, No. 19 Texas and No. 21 Oklahoma State.
West Virginia will be represented individually by Sarah-Anne Brault and Oklahoma will be represented by Jessica Engel, allowing the Big 12 to have six out of its 10 schools competing in the women’s championship as either a team or individually.
With the previous experience on the course this season, Smith and Galvan have a more conservative strategy Smith believes will help Galvan race to a better finish.
“In a lot of the races she has run leading up to the regional, she was the hunted, out front and runners coming after her. In this race, we hope she will do the hunting,” Smith said. “We will get her out to a place or position that is competitive and fast, but hoping she has enough energy over the last 800 meters to be able to hunt some people down.”