WICHITA, Kan. - The Wichita State men's and women's cross country teams open the 2012 season with the 64th annual J.K. Gold Classic Saturday, Sept. 1 at the RAFT Golf Course in Augusta, Kan.
The university/college women's 4K race will start at 9 a.m. and the university/college men will run a 6K race starting at 9:45 a.m. High School races begin at 8:00 a.m. for junior varsity, 9:20 a.m. for varsity girls, and 10:15 a.m. for varsity boys.
"We have 18 college teams running so it should be a very competitive meet." Said Kirk Hunter, Wichita State Head Cross Country Coach. "It has been five years since the last time both the men and women Shocker teams have won the J.K. Gold Championship outright so we are hoping we can change that this year." Hunter added.
The Wichita State women's team is coming off a second place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference championship but won the previous six MVC championships dating back to 2005. They return strong senior leadership led by All-American, Aliphine Tuliamuk. Tuliamuk is coming off a junior season where she won the MVC Women's Championship and the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship, and placed 12th overall at the NCAA Cross Country Championship. Joining Tuliamuk will be junior Samantha Shukla, who finished among the top-20 at the 2011 MVC Championships.
Tuliamuk also won the 2011 J.K. Gold Classic with a time of 13:40.10 - more than ten seconds faster than the second-place finisher. Patrober Murindat, a Wichita State senior last season, and Shukla each had top ten finishes at the J.K. Gold Classic while returnees, Laura Burke, Kayla Deighan, Marissa Harris, and Kaitlyn McLeod all finished in the top 25.
"We lost some great runners last year." Said Hunter. "But with Aliphine returning and a strong recruiting class coming in I think we can pick up where we left off last year and continue working hard and compete for the MVC Championship."
Marcos Bailon, a returning senior, paced the Shocker men in the 2011 J.K. Gold Classic with a time of 19:21.15 for a seventh-place finish.
Along with Bailon, the Shocker men return three of their top four runners from last season's MVC Championships - senior, Jake Wike, and sophomore, Sterling Spencer, join Bailon as the top returners. Wike finished 19th and Spencer placed 29th in the 2011 J.K. Gold Classic.
"Our men's team is much deeper and stronger than last year." Hunter Said. "With some great front runners returning and a deep recruiting class we should have a great showing at the J.K. Gold and also a strong cross country season." Hunter said.
Former Shocker All-American, Tonya Nero will run in the University/College Women 4K on Saturday. Nero was a three-time All-American is cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. She won the J.K. Gold Classic in 2010 with a school record time of 13:30.81. Nero runs professionally for the Shocker Track Club.
Results for the J.K. Gold Classic will be available at goshockers.com Saturday.
8 a.m. Junior Varsity Girls (4K)
8:30 a.m. Junior Varsity Boys (5K)
9 a.m. University/College Women (4K)
9:20 a.m. Varsity Girls (4K)
9:45 a.m. University/College Men (6K)
10:15 a.m. Varsity Boys (5K)
11 a.m. Awards Ceremony - All Divisions