FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION DEPARTMENT
VICTORIA, Kan. – One of the largest cross country races in the Midwest will take place just outside Victoria this weekend when Fort Hays State hosts the Fifth Annual Tiger Open Saturday morning (Oct. 8).
Several top teams across many different divisions will descend upon central Kansas this weekend, with a total of 41 schools and 735 student-athletes scheduled to participate. It will be the largest field in the history of the event, exceeding last year’s total by 120 runners. 2016 will mark the third time the event has been split into two divisions, the Black Race and the Gold Race.
Both women’s races will be five kilometers in distance, while the men will traverse an eight kilometer course.
The festivities will begin at the Sand Plum Nature Trail Saturday morning at 8:45 a.m. with the start of the women’s Black Race. The men’s Black Race will follow at 9:20 a.m. The Gold Races will end the day, with the women starting at 10 a.m. before the men go off at 10:35 a.m.
Parking is available for all fans at the course, located just west of Cathedral Avenue in Victoria on 10th Street (Golf Course Road).
Some of the premier NCAA Division II programs scheduled to participate are Adams State, who is ranked No. 1 nationally in the latest USTFCCCA Coaches poll on both the men’s and women’s side, Western State, whose women rank fourth and men rank eighth in the nation, Colorado-Colorado Springs, whose women rank 12th, and West Texas A&M, whose men rank 25th in the coaches poll.
Four other MIAA schools will be competing against the Tigers in the event, including Nebraska-Kearney, Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Washburn.
Both the Tiger men and women enter the weekend ranked sixth in the Central Region poll. The top Tiger runners will compete in the Gold Races.
The Tiger women are led by sophomore Sophie Dalmasso, who won the Sand Plum Invitational with a 5k time of 18:17.93, and junior Shea Bonine, who took first at the ESU Papa John’s Invitational earlier this season with a 18:29.36 in the 5k race. Chelsea Jackson and Micki Krzesinski have both posted top-10 finishes in all three meets so far this season.
Senior Troy Wineinger has been the top finisher for the FHSU men three times this season, highlighted by a first-place finish at the Sand Plum Invitational. Jacob Thomas has posted top-15 finishes in all three meets this season, while junior transfer Oscar Carmona has one third-place finish to his name.
Jenna Thurman, a senior at Adams State, will return to the course after posting the 5k record at the event in 2014, crossing the line in 17:14. Western State’s Ian Butler holds the 8k record at Sand Plum after running a 23:33, also in 2014. Adams State has won both the men’s and women’s team titles twice in the four-year history of the event.