Cross country: Big Ten tourney tricky for Wildcats

Brandon Kreines

Halloween weekend is a time for tricks and treats, and the Northwestern cross country team is looking for a bit of both this weekend.

The Wildcats will compete at the Big Ten Championships in Iowa City, Iowa, on Sunday, but junior Kalysta Harmon is not scared.

“We’re obviously not going to do that well,” Harmon said. “The Big Ten is really good. I’m not saying that we’re really bad, but we’re really just trying to get eighth or ninth place.”

Harmon has run in the Big Ten Championships twice already, so she knows all the tricks. Harmon divulged one: Don’t let yourself fall into a cushion of not running that hard. In a big meet, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing well because there are so many people behind you.

“I just want to shock some teams,” she said.

Harmon started running her sophomore year of high school after discovering she “wasn’t any good at other sports.” She had a brief stint on the softball team, but became discouraged after she was only allowed to be a base runner.

She walked onto the team here and discovered what a treat it was.

“I need someone there to kick-start me,” Harmon said. “I joined the team so that I would have someone make me work out. And then I discovered we were Division I and thought, ‘Hey, that’s pretty cool.'”

As an added treat, the NU team all will be wearing costumes this weekend. “Well,” Harmon said, “if you count the swimsuit uniforms we wear as costumes.”

Harmon admits to being an “overcautious” runner who runs mainly for the competition.

“I don’t like running in itself,” Harmon said. “I like racing, but I’m not a fan of just running. I like something with a plan, like baseball or something. I’m hoping to just get out there and do the best I can for myself.”

Harmon said she’s the opposite of her teammates.

“They love the sport,” she said. “Some of them push themselves really hard, and even come back too soon(from injuries). For them to not be out there running would kill them.”

Harmon and her teammates will be lead by freshman Marie Grabinski, who has been NU’s biggest treat so far this season. Grabinski, who has finished first among the Cats in every race she’s run this year, is a little more optimistic about the team’s chances.

“I think we’ve done a lot of work,” Grabinski said. “I think I’m ready.”

Grabinski and the rest of the team have been doing shorter runs in practice in order to be more rested for the big meet.

“I think we can put together a solid race.” Grabinski said. “If you’ve done the work, you’ll be ready.”

And afterward, of course, comes the ultimate treat, Harmon said.

“I’m sure we’ll eat lots of candy afterward.”

Reach Brandon Kreines at

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Big Ten Championships

When: Sunday

Where: Iowa City, Iowa