Running a 20 minute, 6,000-meter race at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock, Texas, junior cross country runner Sharon Lokedi repeated as the female Big 12 champion on Saturday.
Topping her 2016 time by 18 seconds, the All-American became the first women’s runner to win back-to-back Big 12 championships since Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego won three straight from 2006-08.
Lokedi is the first Jayhawk since Benson Chesang to win multiple conference championships, after the former Jayhawk won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.
Lokedi was rightfully pleased with her historical mark.
"It's not easy, but you keep working and have to keep believing in yourself and trusting you can do it," Lokedi said in a Kansas Athletics news release. "I kept telling myself, 'Sharon, keep going, you've got it. Just relax and trust in yourself. Believe you can do it.'"
Lokedi, who led the women’s team to a sixth place finish in the Big 12 Championship, was joined by senior Alaina Schroeder in the top 11 with a 20:40 finish. Senior Hannah Dimmick also posted a 38th-place finish with a time of 21:30.
"The pace went a lot faster than we had anticipated across the board in the women's race," assistant coach Michael Whittlesey said in the release. "Sharon and Alaina did a great job. We needed to pack up our other three much better earlier on."
Star cross country runner Sharon Lokedi was named the Big 12 Runner of the Week on Tuesday after an eighth-place finish in her season debut at the Pre-National Invitational.
While the Kansas women's team stayed in the same spot as a team from last year, the men's team fell from their fourth place spot last year to seventh place in the 8,000-meter. Four runners narrowly finished in the top 50. The Kansas men were led by junior Bryce Richards, who finished in 40th place with a 25:03 time.
"The men did a decent job in the first half of the race, we just didn't move like we talked about we needed to move over the second half of the race," Whittlesey said in the release. "We were in the group but we just didn't move with the group, so we were about ten spots per person back from where we needed to be to have the race I thought we could've had."
The team will close out their season in the coming weeks when they visit Ames, Iowa for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships on Nov. 10, eight days before the NCAA Championships.
— Edited by Emma Green