Cross Country: Huth, Wildcats run to Springfield in hopes of extending season

John Paschall, Reporter

The Wildcats have a secret, and senior Audrey Huth can’t wait to share it with the competition at NCAA Midwest Regionals on Friday in Springfield, Mo.

“People don’t know what we are capable of,” Huth said. “We may be one of the only ones who do. That little secret will go and show on Friday.”

It is no secret Northwestern has underperformed this year. Expectations were high coming into the season after the team went through a promising 2011 campaign and received an infusion of talented freshmen. But the story of the year with the Cats is how they have been unable to leave everything on the course, a theme that has frustrated coach April Likhite.

Yet even with that disappointment, the Cats are still itching to get back on the course.

“After Big Tens, we all still want more,” junior Lexie Goldsmith said. “We didn’t race the best we could as a team. We just want another chance. We are ready to give it our all and we will surprise a lot of people.”

Likhite has also made no secret about who she wants her squad to go after this Friday: the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

“Our coach came in to practice today and goes ‘Do you know what animal goes into hibernation this time of year?” Goldsmith said. “‘The Gopher! The Wildcat never hibernates.’”

Goldsmith and junior Michelle Moriset have been training partners this year and have always runclose by each other in races. But in East Lansing, Mich., two weeks ago, Moriset found her way toward the front of the race while Goldsmith fell toward the back. The two close friends have continued to work together in the off-week and Moriset said we will see a stronger performance from Goldsmith this week.

“Big Tens was not an accurate representation of what she’s capable of,” Moriset said of Goldsmith. “In the workouts we’ve been having, we are always together, and she’s been running side by side. That was just a fluke what happened to her. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be the same at Regionals.”

The Cats head into the week ranked fifth in the USTFCCCA rankings. In order for the team to make Nationals, NU will have to finish in the top three, which would require leapfrogging the third-ranked Golden Gophers.

Huth noticed during the off-week that Likhite has taken a slightly different approach to how she has prepared her team heading into Missouri.

“One thing she did for us this time is she said, ‘You give me your goals. I want you to own up and say this is what I want to do,’” Huth said. “If we tell her what we want to do, then that means that we can believe we can do it. That makes it a little more powerful than them saying what they believe we can do.”

Even though this could potentially be Huth’s last cross-country race, her immense excitement hides this potential outcome. But when she thought about her legacy, she said there is one main image she wants to leave behind.

“If you truly put heart and soul into this and give it everything you’ve got, you can make amazing things happen,” she said. “That’s hard work. It comes with some blood, sweat, and tears, but it’s definitely worth it. In the end, there’s no way you can leave unsatisfied.”