Youngsters guide Cats to victory

Steve Silver

Led by a collection of underclassmen, Northwestern had runners in the first-through-fourth positions halfway through Saturday’s Wisconsin-Parkside Midwest Collegiate Open.

For the rest of the 5K race, the Wildcats did not relinquish control of the meet.

The Cats went on to win with a team score of 64, with five runners finishing in the top 20.

“I was very pleased with their performance in a race with so many teams,” coach Amy Tush said. “I still expect a lot more from them in the coming weeks, though.”

Competing with 30 other teams, the Cats’ ran to victory on the soles of five underclassmen.

Sophomore Marie Grabinski led the Cats with her third overall finish with a time of 18:46, two seconds behind the overall winner.

“Marie had a decent day, ” Tush said. “I think she could have won the race, and she will learn over time how to turn good performances into victories.”

Four freshmen capped off the Cats’ winning race. Carly Brown, Megan Young, Allison King and Hilary Forman finished ninth, 16th, 17th and 19th, respectively.

“I think we surprised other teams and even ourselves with our first place finish,” King said. “Running together as a group definitely helped to pull us along.”

Tush said she was pleased how the freshman ran in their first collegiate races, but next weekend will be the real test for the Cats’ core of freshmen.

The Cats will travel to Minneapolis next Saturday for the Roy Griak Invitational to open the regular season.

“Next weekend will be tougher, and we will be letting other teams set the pace at first,” Tush said. “I think we can improve from this weekend and try to use this weekend’s practice against a large field to our advantage.”

Although the Cats have not been ranked in any preseason polls, King said the Cats are ready to prove they can compete with the best teams.

“This weekend gave us a huge confidence boost,” King said. “It lets us know we shouldn’t ever place limits on our expectations for ourselves. We are going in mentally and physically tough next weekend.”

Reach Steve at [email protected]