Depth is strength of cross country team
- Aug. 20, 2012
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When a team’s best player goes down with an injury, the team has two choices. One, they can go through the motions and act like he was the whole reason they were good. Or two, they can strive to be better and make up for the loss.
The latter of the two is what the men’s cross country team decided to do when they lost then junior Donny Wasinger to a pulled achilles tendon last season.
“With him last year, the team could have been much better, but without him, it made the team much better,” said assistant coach Michael Whittlesey. “Because his leadership wasn’t out there and the younger athletes had to step forward and learn on their own.”
Now Wasinger is a senior and the returning corps will be pushing him to be the number one guy to lead the Jayhawks.
“It’s the strongest team we’ve had in a number of years. It’s not just from a talent basis, but also a commitment basis,” Whittlesey said.
Whittlesey also said that anyone on the team can push to be in the front five even if they are the 10th runner. The top five runners in each race make up the team score, so competition is always good. The commitment to be in the top five is visible by the summer training.
“We’ve had a lot of guys that were committed and putting in a lot of miles,” Wasinger said. “Multiple guys putting in 100-mile weeks throughout the summer.”
The men’s cross country team brings back 15 letterwinners and six Big 12 scorers. Redshirt freshman Gabe Gonzalez, junior Josh Munsch and senior Josh Baden will look to join Wasinger in the top five.
Gonzalez is expected, along with Wasinger as the top two runners for the Jayhawks. Munsch competed in the NCAA Championships with track and field last year and Whittlesey believes the experience he had there will have a positive reaction for the cross country season.
Baden has had to work hard to get where he is after barely making the cut his freshmen year, but is now in a place to be one of the top three runners for the Jayhawks.
In order for a successful season, the cross country team will have to rely on everyone to make a commitment to the team.
“The returners this year have really stepped up,” Whittlsey said. “The commitment that our sophomores and freshmen from last year have put forth the last 12 months have been tremendous. They’ve really stepped up their game.”
-Edited by Andrew Ruszczyk