Jan. 16, 2012
Following a 10th-place finish at the 2011 NCAA Division I Cross Country Midwest Regional, the Oklahoma women's distance runners look to build on the promising fall they had. Under the direction of fourth year coach Skip Pickens, the group looks to contribute to the all-around team success this year.
Jessica Engel anchors the group heading into 2012. The Sturgis, S.D., native qualified for outdoor nationals in 2011 and has the potential to do so indoors this year as well. Engel earned second team All-America honors in the 10,000-meter run in 2011 after winning the Big 12 outdoor title in the event. The six-time All-Big 12 honoree looks to add to that total this season.
Engel's maturation over the past two seasons has led to a confidence boost that should aid her this year. The long distance specialist is described as methodical and dependable, a very coachable athlete who sticks to the race plan and executes it well.
Kelsey Brown should see the hard work from her freshman season and this past cross country season pay off in 2012. The Orem, Utah, native has worked on finding her focus and has put in the time and effort to succeed in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs this year. Last season, she earned All-Big 12 honors in the outdoor 800-meter run.
Natalie Crain leads a group of three seniors in the women's distance group this year. The Dallas, Texas, native has one distance medley relay all-conference honor to her credit, leading the 2010 foursome to a fourth-place finish at the Big 12 Indoor Championship. Crain has earned the reputation of a hard worker with a great attitude. Those attributes, along with her coachability, should show in her success this season.
Annie Martin is in her second season at Oklahoma after transferring from Georgia Tech. For Martin, also a senior, the indoor focus is simple. While she may run other distances outdoors, her main focus during that season is the steeplechase, an event she earned All-Big 12 honors in a year ago. The Clay Center, Kan., native also holds the program record in the event, running 10:31.39 at the 2011 NCAA West Regional.
Senior Kelly Waters looks to finish her Sooner career on a high note after not competing the last two seasons. Waters, a native of Louisville, Colo., earned All-Big 12 honors in the outdoor 5,000-meter run, the mile and distance medley relay in 2009. She started her career with all-conference honors in the 1,000-meter run and distance medley relay in 2008.
Oklahoma City product Molly Ferguson has also made huge improvements and Pickens expects to see good things from the junior this season. Redshirt freshman Hilary Krein continues to improve and is committed to doing well this season. The Eureka, S.D., native will specialize in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs as well as the mile.