Shockers men, women dominate in J.K. Gold Classic

Grant Cohen

Wichita State’s cross country training has consisted of grouping runners up to run at the same pace in the long distance. Both the men and the women grouped together through the 3k marker, before splitting up to claim the J.K. Gold Classic.

The Shocker men scored 15 team points, compared to Newman’s 52 and Cowley County Community College’s 78. The Shocker women won, scoring 19 points to Newman’s 59 and Cowley CC placed third with 73 team points.

“Our goal was to pack it up as a group, and run together through 4k on the guys,” head coach Kirk Hunter said. “The girls we knew were going to be split up a little more (in the 3k) because there are different levels of talent at this time of the year. From then on, it was all for themselves.”

WSU snatched all top 10 finishes in the men’s 6k, with senior Ugis Jocis winning the race with a time of 18:33.3 and averaging a 4:58 mile split. Sophomore Reno Law finished second 21 seconds later, while freshman Cory Landon ran a time of 18:57 to claim third place.

As the Shockers came down to the last 300 meters, three WSU teammates were battling each other for top five finishes. Juniors Nathan Wickeren and Joe Harter along with Pedro Montoya, ran red faced, but relaxed as Wickeren claimed fourth with a time of 18:58.3. Harter and Montoya tied for fifth place, running with times of 18:58.6.

“In practice we always try to stay in the group and lean on together,” Jocis said. “You feel the pressure that you need to be together with everyone.”

The women used the same strategy as the men, packing together four runners at the 3k mark to control the team scores in the meet. Sophomore Rebakah Topham became the second Shocker athlete to win the J.K Gold Classic in back to back years, claiming first with a time of 14:09.8 in the 4k.

“(Winning the meet) is a nice start to the season,” Topham said. “It felt really relaxed (in the first 3k) and then I took off and it felt good.”

Seniors Emilea Finley and Sidney Hirsch finished behind Topham in second with a time of 14:21.09, with Finley taking second place while Hirsch took third. Junior Jordan Maestas placed sixth with a time of 15:03 and junior Lycia Hollon rounded out the women’s top 10 finishes, placing ninth with a time of 15:12.4.

Freshman Katie Cumpston placed seventh in the 4k, running in her first collegiate race with a time of 15:09.6.

“We want to get to try to get our team as a group as close as possible,” Hunter said. “The closer we can be to our first runner as the season goes on with our eighth runner being that close, we are going to be a better team.”

The next meet WSU will compete in is the Woody Greeno Invitational on Saturday, September 17. The Shockers will travel to Lincoln, N.E., to compete against numerous D1 schools, including meet host University of Nebraska.

This will be the first of four meets where the Shockers will meet the Cornhuskers this season.

“We’re hoping that the young kids that are back a little bit now will get the confidence to know that they can run with these guys and girls,” Hunter said. “Once they get that confidence to know that they can do that, that is what is going to make us a stronger season.”