Both Kansas State cross country teams placed in the top 10 at the Rim Rock Classic on Saturday. The Wildcat women placed seventh by scoring 170 points while the Wildcat men placed ninth by scoring 242 points. Sophomore Laura Galvan had the best individual finish of both teams by placing seventh with a time of 20:58.60, a personal best.
Although her time reflects a seventh place finish, Galvan had control of the race as she led during the first 5K but in the last 1K, opponents were able to catch and then pass her. Coach Michael Smith contributed this to her racing strategy.
“Galvan pushed the pace too hard and that caused her to struggle at the end,” Smith said. “There was a very steep hill with 800M to go. Galvan still had the lead at that point but she got tired, allowing some opponents to catch up to her and then pass her. She ran a really aggressive race and I was proud of her.”
Smith may have been proud of Galvan’s effort at the rim Rock Classic, but also found something she can improve on for the next meet.
“We learned that she was a little over her head and she worked too hard,” Smith said. “Next time, she won’t push the pace as hard so she’ll have stamina for the end of a race.”
Galvan agreed with Smith and felt the experience of the last 1K will help her become a better runner.
“I think I need to slow down more. If I had more stamina at the end, I could have been in better shape,” Galvan said. “That experience will teach me a better strategy on how to pace myself through an entire race. I’m happy with how I did because I pushed myself and was able to achieve my personal best. Overall, I feel like I’m racing well and I will only continue to improve.”
Galvan feels running against better competition at the Rim Rock Classic and in upcoming meets will also help her become a better runner, physically and mentally.
“I know the competition is strong but I need to save myself. The first two meets weren’t as difficult but I know I have to believe in myself. If I don’t believe in myself, no one else will think I can compete against anybody,” Galvan said. “There is no reason I feel like I can’t. Sometimes I feel great while other times I don’t. When that happens, I still have to believe in myself. Today showed if I believe in myself then I can accomplish anything.”
The women’s team faced a pair of top 25 teams in 11th-ranked Michigan and No. 22 Toledo on Saturday. Michigan won the meet, scoring 33 points and Toledo finished second by scoring 43 points.
Sophomore Erika Schiller and freshman Mary Frances Donnelly were two other K-State standouts on Saturday. Schiller finished 23rd with a time of 21:40.40 and Donnelly finished 33rd with a time 22:01.80. Smith said he was pleased with their performances as well.
“Schiller and Donnelly raced very aggressive and very hard. That’ll service them well at the championship meets at the end of the season,” Smith said. “Schiller showed significant improvement from the Woody Greeno Invitational two weeks ago. She raced from start to finish. Donnelly continues to improve as well. She passed runners the whole way and I was very happy for her.”
While K-State’s top three runners performed well, Smith is encouraged about the women’s team although they are young.
“We have a young team. We were not as competitive as we hoped to be, but they took positive steps and have things to work on as we move forward,” Smith said. “I’m encouraged by our youth. We were only 10 points behind Kansas. By the end of the season, we feel that we can better than them.”
No. 11 Indiana highlighted the field for the men’s meet, but host Kansas dominated. The Jayhawks won with a team total of 35 points and had five top 10 individual finishes. Indiana placed second overall, scoring 44 points. Fernando Roman paced the Wildcat men, finishing 40th with a time of 25:01.20.
The ninth-place finish of the men was not what Smith had anticipated leading into the race, but liked what he saw from senior Kyle Hanson and junior Ryan Hershner.
“The finish wasn’t what we had hoped, but we’re making small steps forward,” Smith said. “Ryan Hershner and Kyle Hanson did a good job working together in the race. That was what we were looking for them to do.”
Smith was happy to see significant progress from the freshmen as well, although they are still getting used to college competition.
“The young freshmen aren’t ready for this competition yet, but they improved significantly from two weeks ago. We’re still in a developmental stage with them,” Smith said.