LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Both Kansas State cross country teams participated in the Pre-National Invitational on Saturday at the E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. The Wildcat women finished 27th in the Women’s Red Seeded 6K, scoring 722 points, while the Wildcat men placed 20th in the Men’s Black Unseeded 8K with 461 points.
The Wildcat women faced strong competition. There were eight top 25 teams in the Women’s Red Seeded 6K, featuring No. 1 Florida State, No. 4 Oregon, No. 6 Georgetown, No. 8 Michigan, No. 17 College of William and Mary, No. 18 Colorado, No. 24 Villanova and No. 25 Butler.
Each top 10 team at the Pre-National Invitational finished in the top five. No. 1 Florida State won the meet by scoring 72 points, No. 4 Oregon placed second by scoring 87 points, No. 8 Michigan placed third by scoring 141 points and No. 6 Georgetown placed fourth by scoring 163 points.
Although the women’s team placed 27th, K-State head coach Michael Smith was pleased with the overall team performance.
“Our intention to come out here was to preview the course for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17, since it’ll be run on this same course. We also had a lot of young women compete against the best teams in the NCAA,” Smith said. “We knew there were going to be competitive opportunities. Our hope was to be in the top 30 and we placed 27th. Some individual performances could be better, but today is a very positive day for the women as we get ready for the Big 12 Championships.”
The women’s overall team performance was not the only thing that pleased Smith. There were three strong individual performances from sophomore Laura Galvan, sophomore Erika Schiller and freshman Mary Frances Donnelly. Galvan placed 36th with a time of 20:52.6, Schiller placed 76th with a time of 21:23.5 and Donnelly placed 139th in a time of 21:52.1. All three of the times were new personal bests.
“Schiller had a significant performance by placing 76th. She showed significant improvement. The time she ran was very competitive for her,” said Smith. “Donnelly was also much improved, although she still has a lot to learn. Galvan ran well again, but she could still get out a little bit harder. There were so many runners that when she got pushed back, she had trouble moving up. I was very happy they performed so well, and that helped our team achieve what we did.”
While Galvan, Schiller and Donnelly had great performances at the Pre-National Invitational, Smith still has high, but realistic, expectations for the women’s team.
“We ran well but we’re not satisfied,” Smith said. “The high level of competition here was to be expected. We’re probably going to move up in the regional rankings although we didn’t beat Big 12 teams we should have including Baylor who is right ahead of us. Finishing better is something we need to continue working on, and we’re trying to be as competitive as we can be with the personnel we have.”
The Wildcat men placed 20th with a score of 461 points. Indiana won the meet by scoring 83 points, with Eastern Kentucky placing second by scoring 101 points and Akron finishing third with 186 points. Fernando Roman led K-State with a time of 25:31.4. That was good for a 71st place finish.
Smith believes the men performed as he expected them to.
“Our men’s team is what they are,” Smith said. “They are young, inconsistent and again, that’s what showed at the meet today.”
After the Pre-National Invitational, K-State will participate in the Big 12 Championships in Austin, Texas on October 27.