Cross Country: NU runners compete for elusive ninth spot

John Paschall

It’s an old-fashioned dog fight as the Wildcats travel to Champaign, Ill., for Friday’s Illini Open. The “Big Ten Group,” comprised of the top nine Northwestern runners, has almost been finalized, with one spot left to be decided.

Coach April Likhite said she feels confident in her first eight selections. She will scrutinize the rest of her squad on Friday.

“For some,” Likhite said, “they are going into this meet as their last college race of the season. Others are going into it hoping to maybe earn a spot on the Big Ten squad.”

Likhite is keeping her eye on junior Moira Ryan and sophomores Michelle Moriset and Julia Buford. Moriset and Buford were in the Big Ten Group last year while Ryan made it in 2009. Ryan has been out the past two weeks with a hip injury while Moriset made her season debut last week coming off a back injury.

“I’m really confident going into this race,” Ryan said. “It’s about time I PR (personal record).”

Moriset said she has a bit of an advantage over some of her teammates because of her experience in the Big Ten Group last year.

“I’m good with handling pressure and expectations in a very competitive field,” Moriset said.

Moriset said she has overcome the mental hurdle of her back injury but she still feels that she has to catch up on the physical side.

“I definitely am a little bit behind because I was held out of workouts for a while,” Moriset said. “Each week, I’ve been adding more miles and doing more weights but I’m still confident in my physical ability.”

Moriset also said she doesn’t need to come in first to feel good about her chances of taking the last spot.

Buford, on the other hand, feels the pressure to finish first in Champaign.

“That’s my goal (to finish first),” Buford said. “A couple of weeks ago it seemed more certain that I was going but a few days ago I was put into this race to confirm that I’ll be going to Big Ten’s.”

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