Shockers Set to Host JK Gold Classic
The meet will include university/college men’s and women’s races as well as varsity and junior varsity high school boys’ and girls’ races.
“The J.K. Gold Classic is a great way to honor one of the greatest coaches in the history of WSU track & field/cross country,” fourth year head coach Marc Burns said. “The meet is a great way to start the season at our only home event of the year and really prepare us for the upcoming season.”
The WSU men will be lead by a young but talented group that includes junior Marius Sava and sophomores Trace Kendrick and Scott Ufford. Kendrick was 18th at Missouri Valley Conference championships with Sava coming in 21st. Ufford had a season-best 11th place finish at last year’s JK Gold Classic.
Three other juniors will join Sava and look to push the men’s team into the top three of the MVC. Brandon Haist, Jake Stecklein and Ryan Woodman will each look to improve upon last year’s results and give the Shockers a solid core. Woodman and Haist finished 22nd and 23rd, respectively, at the 2008 JK Gold Classic while Stecklein notched a pair of top 20 finishes last season.
Sophomores Kevin Pendergast, Ryan Phebus and Joseph Woodward will add depth and help guide newcomers Josh Richardson (Great Bend, Kan.) and Jake Wike (Derby, Kan.). Pendergast finished a season-best eighth at the J.K. Gold Classic last season while Phebus and Woodward will look to crack into the WSU men’s top five.
Richardson and Wike come to WSU with several accolades from a successful high school career. Richardson was a three-time regional medalist in cross country and track and field. Wike, a 2009 6A state champion in the 1600m and 3200m, brings with him a solid resume in both track and field and cross country.
On the women’s side, WSU graduated All-MVC performers Kellyn Johnson and Kimber Lemon, but do return All-MVC member Irene Kosgei. Also, the women’s side will feature three junior college transfers who will team with Kosgei as the Shockers look towards a possible fifth straight conference title.
Irene Kosgei, who placed third in last year’s MVC championships, was also a scholar-athlete in 2008 and will be flanked by senior Olivia Martinez, a 2007 All-MVC member. Martinez hampered by an early season injury but still competed in five races last year. Rachel York, a 2009 regional qualifier in the steeplechase and an all-MVC selection in cross country, looks to build on her preivous success heading into upcoming season.
Fellow senior Megan Gayer will join juniors transfers Naomy Kea, Tonya Nero and Leah Thompson in what has the making of a “deep and potentially dynamic” group, according to fourth year head coach Marc Burns. Kea was the 800m National Junior College Athletic Association national champion while placing second in the 1500m. Nero was the MVP of her cross country and track and field teams at Colby County [Kan.] Community College while Thompson was sixth at the NJCAA national championships in the 3K. Danielle Walker, the fourth junior on the squad, ran in four races last year with a season-best 10th place showing at the J.K. Gold Classic.
Sophomore Sharon Zeller rounds out the returning Shocker team with newcomers Laura Burke (Derby, Kan.), Keli Russell (Olathe, Kan.) and Kylie Graves (Delia, Kan.) join the WSU cross country program after successful prep careers.
Burke and Russell each competed in the 6A state championships with Burke finishing 10th and Russell coming in 14th. Graves was second overall in the 3A state championships.
A parking fee will be in effect for the meet. Results from the J.K. Gold Classic will be available following the awards ceremony.