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OSU looks for second straight sweep at Big 12 Championship

Kaela Edwards

Oklahoma State's Kaela Edwards will compete in the Big 12 Cross=Country Championships after not having competed since July. 

Kaela Edwards will have a different mindset Saturday in Lubbock, Texas, for the Big 12 Cross Country Championships.

She will end her stint on the sidelines and race for the Cowgirls on Saturday.

This race marks her first competition since July 1 and her first for Oklahoma State since June 11.

Edwards has been recovering minor injuries that have not been specified.

“I actually just started full training three weeks ago,” Edwards said. “Before that, I spent a lot of time in the pool or on the elliptical. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’ve done what I needed to get here, and I’ve enjoyed the time I had to put in.”

Edwards is a much-needed addition to the Cowgirl lineup.

The Cowgirls lost their first Cowboy Jamboree since 2009 and came in third place at the Penn State Nationals on Oct. 14.

“I think she brings a lot of confidence,” coach Dave Smith said. “Knowing she’s there takes a lot of pressure off a lot of girls. To know she’s out there leading the way calms everybody down. I think everybody runs better because she’s there.”

The 18th-ranked Cowgirls will need Edwards’ presence Saturday.

The reining Big 12 champions will have to face teams such as No. 12 Baylor, No. 15 Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas and Kansas.

“It won’t be too much different than we have run a lot in the past few years,” Smith said. “We tend to be a lot more conservative than other teams in the Big 12. We have a lot of middle distance women, so we try to come on late. Teams get out ahead of us, and we try to go after them and catch them.”

The conference isn’t as deep in the men’s division, Smith said.

The Cowboys are ranked ninth, and the closest Big 12 team to them is Iowa State at 13.

The Cowboys’ success is in large part to Josh Thompson, Sylvester Barus and Hassan Abdi.

“I’m very confident in our front three,” Smith said. “I kind of feel like when I put our front three against anyone’s top three in the country we’re pretty comparable.”

Barus is the Cowboy Jamboree champion, and Thompson and Abdi took two of the top three spots at the Penn State Nationals.

Anthoney Armstrong, Luis Martinez and Christian Liddell have also been consistent scoring runners for OSU.

OSU’s second-tier trio has never had a finisher of below 25th place.

The Cowboys are going for their ninth consecutive Big 12 conference title.

“I think we all just need to do our part to win,” Thompson said. “I don’t think there is any individual that needs to step up or do anything crazy. I just think if we run smart and together as a team, we will come out with the win.”

sports@ocolly.com