If the expectations for the Kansas University cross country teams weren’t high enough, athletic director Sheahon Zenger made sure the teams knew that he wants to see success.
He met with the veterans on the men’s and women’s teams on Aug. 17, the teams’ first day of training and the day of the Kansas University Fall Olympic Sports Media Day.
And Zenger’s tone made it clear — the tradition-rich cross country teams need to excel this season.
“That’s the kind of thing that we need and the athletes see that there is an expectation,” 12th-year head coach Stanley Redwine said. “So with that expectation, we have to step up to the occasion.”
Senior Donny Wasinger said he was impressed with the new athletic director
“He’s definitely a very enthusiastic guy,” Wasinger said. “He seems like a great leader.”
The Jayhawks will get their first chance to live up to Zenger’s challenge this morning when they compete in the Bob Timmons Classic at Rim Rock Farm.
Both Kansas teams have finished in first place at the meet in each of the last six years.
Wasinger, who competed in the NCAA Championships last season, said that Zenger’s words of motivation give him enthusiasm for cross country.
“It may not be a money sport, it may not be a revenue kind of thing, but he sees a value in it that we all see in it,” Wasinger said.
Some of the teams’ established runners — namely Wasinger and All-American Rebeka Stowe — may not compete today, but the meet will be important for the 14 newcomers and eight freshmen coming off a redshirt training year.
At the media day on Aug. 17, Redwine said both teams return four of their five top performers from a season ago. He said the team will have to figure out rather quickly who will run in the fifth spot.
But with Wasinger, Stowe and a plethora of other returning runners, Redwine knows his teams have a lot of potential to do well in the Big 12 Conference.
“We’re definitely excited about the team,” Redwine said.
Wasinger said the whole team has to help in the process of finding more runners who can finish strongly in meets.
“If you see a runner on your team that’s not having as good of a race, if you run with them, and maybe even encourage them a little bit, I think it helps a lot,” Wasinger said.
The Jayhawks also compete next weekend at the Missouri Cross Country Challenge in Columbia, Mo.