KU Fall Sports Preview: Redwine expecting more from cross-country veterans Gibbens, Latema

photo by: Photo courtesy of Kansas Athletics

University of Kansas track and field coach Stanley Redwine observes the action at a practice in 2021.

There’s plenty for Kansas cross-country to build on after promising finishes at last fall’s NCAA Midwest Regional meet and the Big 12 Conference Outdoor Championships earlier this spring.

KU head coach Stanley Redwine hosted his first fall practice last Thursday. The 23-year coach has a full list of to-dos to get through before the Jayhawks’ home meet, the Rim Rock Collegiate Classic, on Sept. 2.

Atop that list is evaluating who put in the work this summer, and who didn’t.

“It comes down to endurance, but it comes down to their experience as well,” Redwine said.

When it comes to returning experience, the Jayhawks are in luck. KU lost just two distance runners, Justice Dick and Faten Laribi, to graduation.

During the first three weeks back, Redwine will look to his 12 upperclassmen, and specifically seniors Chandler Gibbens and Lona Latema, to ease the group into proper form.

Gibbens, who broke the men’s 5K school record, previously held by Jim Ryun, with a new personal best (13:28.71) this spring at the Stanford Invitational, will be the frontrunner for the men’s squad this fall. The Columbia, Missouri, senior placed 30th overall (25:30.9) at the NCAA Midwest Regional, nailing down All-Regional honors along the way.

Latema, a native of Eldoret, Kenya, put together an equally exciting junior campaign, winning the 1,500 meters with a personal best (4:26.15) at LSU earlier this spring and 35th overall (20:54.8) at the NCAA Midwest regional last fall. Latema led the women’s team in five of six races last season.

“We’re really dependent upon our leadership of our seniors,” Redwine said. “I think, with the year Chandler had, that’s a great place to start. And Lona, she’s fantastic as well, but I think they’re both just true leaders. They’re a combination of leading by example and helping their teammates, pulling them up.”

The KU men’s team also returns juniors Peter Walsdorf, Cale Littrell and Topeka native Tanner Newkirk from last year’s 12th-place regional finish. On the women’s side, juniors Aaliyah Moore and Kenadi Krueger will be key returning assets from last year’s 19th-place regional team.

Like any current Big 12 coach, Redwine is preparing for the addition of newcomers BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, and UCF to the conference this fall. With four more schools joining the league next fall, the longtime KU coach said it’s a blessing and a curse.

“It’s a much tougher conference,” Redwine said. “I think the better the conference, the more prepared you have to be and the better you have to be. And, hopefully, we’re going to beat that.”

The start time for the KU home meet at Rim Rock Farm on Sept. 2 is to be determined.

photo by: KU Athletics

Kansas track and field long distance runner Chandler Gibbens competes at the 2023 Big 12 Track and Field Championships on Friday, May 12, 2023.

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