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Archive for Saturday, October 30, 1999

KU CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW

October 30, 1999

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Scenic Rim Rock Farm won't be the site of this year's Big 12 cross country championships.

Today, the league's CC teams will congregate at Texas A&M's Golf Course in College Station, Texas.

"They call it 'rolling hills,' so it should be interesting to see what the Texans consider 'rolling,''' KU coach Gary Schwartz said, expecting a flat layout. "It will be more of a track race. I think that will help us. We've got some people with good track stats like Charlie Gruber."

The women's 3,000-meter race will start at 10 a.m. and be followed by the men's 5,000 at 11 a.m.

Colorado's men enter as three-time defending Big 12 champions. Kansas State's women, who won last year, hope to upend Colorado for the league women's crown.

"Colorado has decided to go pretty much with distance in the program," Schwartz said. "K-State surprised Colorado on the women's side last year and has another good team this year."

Texas Tech senior Leigh Daniel, Colorado junior Kara Wheeler and Oklahoma State junior Hanna Smedstad enter as favorites in the women's race. Colorado freshman Jorge Torres and Oklahoma State's Chuck Sloan are favorites on the men's side.

Brian Jensen leads KU's men's team. Red-shirt freshman Keely Malone of Lawrence leads the KU women's squad.

"Brian is not running as well this year as last year," Schwartz said of Jensen, who placed fifth at the league meet a year ago. "He got very sick -- mono-like symptoms -- last spring. He's started slower but has been coming along steadily and has gotten back to his own self. That means up front.

"Keely is our No. 1 runner right now. She is a joy to be around. I am very pleased. My recollection is out of high school she was a solid cross country runner. She took a year off and has improved her strength level in road racing."

Malone has a season-best finish of 37th at the Penn State Open. Sara Brinkley has KU's top finish of the season -- a 13th at Southern Illinois.

Jensen has a season-best finish of fourth at the Bob Timmons Invitational at Rim Rock. Andy Tate has a victory to his credit, at Southern Illinois. Also, Brent Behrens, Pete Prince and Brian Blachly placed fifth, sixth and 10th respectively at SIU.

"This is the start of the championship season," Schwartz said. "Conference, regional and hopefully nationals. We'll be running against the best."

-- Gary Bedore's phone number is 832-7186. His e-mail address is gbedore@ljworld.com

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