One member of Kansas University's women's track and cross country teams earned a gold medal in Big 12 championship competition a year ago.
KU's returning champion for the 2001-02 season is Andrea Bulat, a 5-foot-8 senior dynamo from Windsor, Ontario.
One of the top young throwers in Canada, Bulat placed first at the Big 12 Outdoor with a mark of 158-0.
She placed second at the NCAA Outdoor with a personal best throw of 168-4. And she also notched second at the Canadian Outdoor championships.
"Andrea is very, very competitive. It is nice to see someone who works their rear end off go out and achieve," KU coach Stanley Redwine said. "She is a leader. Sometimes people are leaders whether they like to be or not, and she is one of those people."
One of the top throwers in her native Canada, Bulat is shooting for her first NCAA title this year.
"I am pretty hungry for that definitely. I want to go out with a bang," Bulat said. "If anything, I want to go to nationals again and compete well. I'm going for the gold. I'd be happy with top three. Gold sounds better."
Weight coach Doug Reynolds is confident Bulat will achieve greatness this season and years to come on the international level.
"She is one of the fiercest competitors I've yet to see," Reynolds said. "Between her work ethic and competitiveness she stands a great chance to do really well in her final year."
It will take a lot for Bulat to top her junior season. She leaped from seventh place to second on her fifth of six throws at NCAAs in Oregon.
"I was ecstatic. It was awesome. To throw a P.R. at nationals and be an All-American, it's what you want to do," Bulat said. "It was amazing, an incredible thrill."
Also back for KU in the throwing events is Jennifer Foster, a Fort Worth, Texas, senior who placed eighth in the league indoor shot put and notched 12th in the outdoor javelin.
Several distance runners return off last year's squad, which placed 11th at the league cross country meet.
Laura Lavoie, a sophomore from Springfield, Mo., placed 40th at the Big 12 CC championships last year. Bridget Morrisey, a junior from Ottawa, notched 50th. And Paige Higgins, a sophomore from Denver, claimed 51st.
Eve Lamborn, a junior from Colorado Springs, placed 53rd, while Tualatin sophomore Lauren Brownrigg placed 62nd. Katy Eisenmenger, a senior from Fairmont, Minn., placed 67th and Kelli Reid, a sophomore from Wichita, placed 71st.
"Three of our top five finishers at league were freshmen. For the future of our team, it looks exciting. If experience is a key to success, we will do well in the years to come," Redwine said.
At the league outdoor, Higgins placed eighth in the 10,000 and 18th in the 5,000. Also, Eisenmenger earned eighth in the 1,500 and Lamborn 10th in the 3,000 steeplechase. Lavoie placed fifth in the 800 at the Big 12 Indoor in 2:10.81. Eisenmenger was fourth in the 1,000 at indoor.
Courtney Deutsch, a senior from Prior Lake, Minn., placed seventh in the 3,000 and Lamborn, a junior from Colorado Springs, Colo., 21st in the 3,000 at league indoor.
KU has some sprinters and field events personnel back. Heading the list is Sherre-Khan Blackmon, a senior from Houston, who red-shirted outdoor season.
Three athletes return from KU's 1,600 relay team, which set a school record in placing fourth at league outdoor. They are Stacy Keller (Halstead sophomore), Shameika McField (St. Louis senior) and Shanetta March (senior, Aurora, Colo.).
Kerry Fink, a senior from Mount Prospect, Ill., placed seventh in the 400 hurdles. Abby Nielsen, a sophomore from Wichita, earned 10th in the 400 hurdles.
Brandi Taylor, a junior from Keller, Texas, placed eighth in the triple jump (38-1 1/2) and 11th in the long jump at the indoor. She was 13th in the triple at the outdoor meet.
Junior high jumper Sarah Schraeder is back after placing eighth at league outdoor in 5-51*4 and 12th at league indoor in 5-3.
"We had 23 athletes on the women's side compete at the league outdoor and 12 came back with medals," Redwine said. "Our goal is to make the places higher in the future."
Redwine has signed several athletes.
Sondra Rauterkus from Harlan, Ind., placed third in her state meet in the high jump at 5-foot-8.
Megan Manthe of Andover, Minn., has a personal-best time of 2:13 in the 800. She will also compete in cross country.
Diane Disher of Ontario, Canada, runs the 3,000 (9:58) and 1,500 (4:40) and will compete in cross country.
"She could step in right now and be one of our top five cross country runners as well as one of our 3,000 and 5,000 runners," Redwine said.