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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘Die together’: Cross country teams share goals after successful first meet

After sweeping the competition at their first meet of the season, the Wichita State cross country teams have their eyes set on bigger and better wins for the new season.

At the JK Gold Classic, the women’s team secured a perfect score of 15, while the men’s team grabbed 16.

Redshirt junior Miranda Dick said the team’s initial success is “exciting.” 

“At JK Gold, we’re all kind of passing each other, helping each other out, and it’s really cool to see that we know each other’s weaknesses; we know each other’s strengths,” Dick said.

She said the first meet helped showcase how the runners support each other.

“Toward the end, like the last mile, I started to struggle really bad,” Dick said. “(Lubna Aldulaimi) sprinted up toward me and helped me, and we talked it out, so that was nice. We push each other.”

Dick said the women’s team “die together.”

“I don’t know how else to explain it,” Dick said. “(We) just have so much in common with everybody; everybody works really well together.” 

Redshirt junior Trey Rios echoed similar feelings for the men’s team following their first meet.

Rios said the first cross country meet tends to be a wake-up call or a way to showcase talent for the team; this year, he said, it was the latter.

“It was a great way to show the strength and the depth we have coming in this year, and it makes me even more excited for the cross country season coming up,” Rios said.

Now entering his 14th year at Wichita State, head coach Kirk Hunter said the teams’ first meeting gave him and the runners more information to work with.

“Even though you get to see them run in practice, it’s really good when you actually see them run in a race,” Hunter said. “You can see how they work together, and if they’re able to stay with each other.”

Both Rios and Dick said the teams have big goals for the season. Dick said the women’s team is focusing on strengthening the returning runners’ skills. 

“Last year, we had a lot of inexperienced runners,” Dick said. “This year, we’re on a whole ‘nother level because we’re way more focused. We all have the same goals.” 

The Kansas City, Missouri, native said last year she was two spots away from making all-conference, a goal she wants to achieve this year.

Rios said that the men’s team has hopes of winning the conference championship based on how eligibility is working out for other teams in the American Athletic Conference. Rios noted that the University of Tulsa lost several strong seniors last year.

“(Tulsa’s) a little bit on the weaker side compared to what they typically are this year,” Rios said. “With all these sorts of moving pieces … we really think this is a year we could have a shot at the conference championship.” 

Rios also said the team has hopes to make it to NCAA nationals.

“Over the past few years, we’ve learned … exactly what we need and what it’s going to take to get there,” Rios said. “(It’ll take) making sure when we get to the NCAA regional meet (that) we’re ready to go and ready to shock some teams out there.” 

Hunter said cross country always wants to be a conference champion and more.

“The guys obviously … want to go the NCAAs,” Hunter said. “Hopefully, (we’ll) get a girl or two to the NCAA championships, you never know. All those things are goals that we always have.”

The cross country teams’ next meet will be on Sept. 16 at the Greeno/Dirksen Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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About the Contributors
Mia Hennen
Mia Hennen, Copy Editor
Mia Hennen is the copy editor for The Sunflower. Most recently, Hennen served as editor-in-chief for the 2023-2024 year. A senior English major, Hennen will graduate in May 2025 and hopes to pursue a career in journalism.
Cheyanne Tull
Cheyanne Tull, Reporter
Cheyanne Tull is a second year reporter, photographer and illustrator for The Sunflower. Tull is pursuing a double major in graphic design and journalism and media production. She hopes to work with outdoor brands combining her love for adventure and creativity after graduation.

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