Kansas cross country wants to be a program associated with the excellence demonstrated by other programs across campus. According to coach Stanley Redwine at Fall Sports Media Day, he wants his program to be able to be spoken of in the same light as some of the other successful programs around campus.
“The attitude is there and the confidence is there," Redwine said. "We don’t want to take a step back and watch the other teams do well. We want to be contributing as well.”
Redwine has the athletes at his disposal to compete at the high level he demands, too. Senior All-American Sharon Lokedi and junior Riley Cooney represent on the women's side, while redshirt senior Chris Melgares and senior Michael Melgares anchor the men's team.
However, Kansas has suffered it's fair share of injuries the past couple of seasons, and are looking to bounce back strong with a healthy squad in 2018.
“I think last year we emphasized the success of the team to the point where the team was out there trying to put it out there and we had some injuries last year," Redwine said. "Those injuries had a lot of people out for the season, so this year we’ll do a better job of it and make sure we pace ourselves right.”
Chris Melgares spent much of last season plagued by injury but is now looking to be a voice of leadership this coming season.
“Last year was a challenging one because I wasn’t able to run with the team for a good portion of the season," Melgares said. "A big thing I learned was positivity plays a huge impact on the team. Being positive is something you can bring to the table any day. That’s an attitude I’ve tried to bring early this year and even throughout the summer.”
Lead by seniors Michael Melgares and Sharon Lokedi, the Kansas cross country team hopes to turn built up experience into major success this season.
Cooney, who was also present at media day, talked about her experience as a runner and how it would help this year’s team.
“After being here for four years, I’ve seen and got to run with a lot of really talented runners and I’ve tried to follow the tone that they’ve set," Cooney said. "I’m really just trying to set an example for the younger girls.”
Cooney, who is coming off a season where she finished 78th at the NCAA Division I Midwest Region Cross Country Championships with a time of 21:31:0, will be a source of leadership for many on the team.
Cooney elaborated on the role of older runners, as well as how adversity from last year helped shape the team.
“We have a lot of older girls who have been at some of the big races" Cooney said. "Like [Redwine] said, we had a lot of injury last year but I think we learned a lot in that. Not only are we coming back stronger but we’re coming back smarter.”
Both men's and women's cross country will start the season at the Bob Timmons Classic at Rim Rock Farms on Sept. 1.