Kansas Men Take Team Title at Rim Rock Classic
Sept. 29, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas men’s cross country team placed five runners among the top-10 finishers to propel the Jayhawks to victory in the inaugural Rim Rock Classic Saturday morning. Senior Donny Wasinger was the top KU finisher and helped the men collect 35 points for the victory at their home course, Rim Rock Farm. The Jayhawk women finished sixth in the team standings with 160 points.
“We had a very specific race plan of what we were going to do,” said fourth-year cross country assistant Michael Whittlesey. “They hit the race plan to a ‘T’. We talk all the time about our small pack of five and they were fantastic; absolutely excellent execution.”
The men’s race, which featured some of the toughest competition Rim Rock has seen in nearly six seasons, pitted the KU men against No. 11 Indiana as well as conference foes Texas Tech and Kansas State along with several other highly-touted squads. The 8K race began at a frantic pace, with Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka shooting out to a huge lead through the first two miles. The Kansas pack held strong though with Wasinger, James Wilson and Evan Landes heading up the group through the first half of the race.
As Kithuka quickly put away doubts of his individual victory in the final two miles of the race, KU’s group continued to make a strong case for the team title, keeping five runners among the top-20 runners heading into the home stretch.
Wasinger was able to run down his teammate Wilson in the final 100 meters to earn the team’s top placement, a fifth-place finish with a time of 24:03.00. Wilson came in just .3 behind the senior in sixth place and was followed by sophomores Landes (24:09.10), Reid Buchanan (24:09.30) and freshman Gabe Gonzalez (24:11.30), all in succession. The top-five KU finishers clocked in just eight seconds apart to help the team earn their second team title of the 2012 season.
“We took down some really good teams who are consistently really strong year-after-year,” Wasinger said following the race. “To be able to do that is a huge confidence boost and hopefully we carry it through to (the next big meet in) Wisconsin and hopefully have a big showing there and surprise people.”
The Red Raider Kithuka won the individual title by more than 45 seconds, running to a course-record, 22:26.70.
For the second-consecutive meet the senior, Kilwein, was the top finisher for the KU women. The Lawrence Free State High School product finished the 6K in 21:30.70 to finish 21st overall. Fellow senior and team captain Kathleen Thompson was the next member of the Crimson and Blue squad to finish as she placed 30th in a time of 21:52.20.
“Kyra did a real nice job,” Whittlesey said. “She had a real nice race. She stayed calm and started to get real aggressive the second half of the race. The effort overall was good but we have more work to do.”
The No. 11 Michigan won the women’s team title, collecting 33 points and also boasted the individual winner, Rebecca Addison who completed the race in 20:29.20.
“I am excited about the start of the tradition of this meet,” Whittlesey concluded. “A lot of coaches talked about how nice the setting was and what a good course it was. It was a great atmosphere today and a perfect day to run.”
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