Cross Country: Wildcats gain experience in ‘fun run’ meet

Ellie Friedmann, Reporter

The Wildcats were 10 of the first 11 female finishers Friday at the NIU Huskie Open in Dekalb, Ill.

Not only was the 5K race co-ed, but it also included community members running for fun. Senior Julia Buford said there aren’t many competitive meets taking place between the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships, so NU wanted to compete in whatever meet was available to them.

“It was a lot slower than our usual meets,” Buford said. “There were a lot of men and women, and it was kind of like a ‘fun run.’ But I think it was good practice for us just running as a team.”

Freshman Jena Pianin finished first for the Cats and was the first female overall, completing the course in a time of 18 minutes, 24 seconds. Freshman Elena Miller came next, followed by Buford and sophomore Megan O’Brien.

Buford said in addition to being good practice, the meet was important because it served as a trial for the top finishers to qualify for NU’s four open spots on the squad for regionals. She said Pianin, Miller, Buford and O’Brien all earned their position on the team and are scheduled to race in the meet this weekend. Her senior year, Buford will compete at the regional championships for the first time.

“I’ve always kind of been the alternate since freshman year,” Buford said. “It’s really exciting for me to finally be there. My really big goal for this year was to be at all the big meets through the end of the season.”

So far, Buford has achieved that goal, having competed in the Big Ten Championships. Unfortunately, senior Michelle Moriset, NU’s top runner, has been out of commission for most of the season. Buford said the Cats are still unsure about whether Moriset will be able to compete.

The season is over for many members of the team. The NIU Huskie Open was an equal opportunity for many of the runners to earn a spot on the regional team and continue their season. For those who did qualify, the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships will take place Friday at Iowa State University.

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