Cross Country: Rested Wildcats stride closer to end of season at Illinois Twilight meet

Max Schuman, Reporter

Cross Country

After a week off from competition to recharge and refocus for the season’s stretch run, Northwestern coach April Likhite entered many of her top runners in shorter races at Saturday night’s Illinois Twilight meet.

Her runners repaid her with strong showings throughout the meet, pushing toward new personal bests with the end of the season looming.

Team leaders and sophomores Andrea Ostenso and Jena Pianin and junior Rachel Weathered competed in the meet’s 1,500m event. Pianin led the way for the Cats, snagging fourth place with a time of 4:32.09, while Weathered and Ostenso crossed the line within two seconds of their teammate for fifth and sixth, respectively. All three set personal bests in the event.

In the 3,000m, junior Elena Barham, fresh off a strong 10,000m run two weeks ago in San Francisco that put her on the map for the NCAA Championships, took sixth with a personal-best time of 10:11.68, while freshman Sara Coffey took 10th in the race in 10:32.53.

Freshman revelation Isabel Seidel and sophomore Hannah Rose took the line for the Cats in the 3,000m steeplechase, the first NU runners of the season to be entered in the event which involves jumping four hurdles and navigating water obstacles. Rose took seventh in a field of eight with a time of 13:02.04, while Seidel was unable to finish the race.

Five other Cats competed in the 5,000m race, with sophomores Elena Miller and Ellen Schmitz leading the way with 13th- and 14th-place finishes, respectively. Juniors Mallory Abel and Allison Jacobsen and freshman Brooke Pigneri took 16th, 17th and 19th in the event.

Likhite’s decision to enter her top athletes in shorter events this weekend resulted in their losing ground in the NCAA qualifying picture this weekend. After a strong showing on the west coast two weeks ago, Ostenso and Pianin were in position to qualify for the NCAA West prelims in the 5,000m, while Barham and Ostenso held qualifying positions in the 10,000m.

But following this weekend’s results across the country, only Ostenso still holds a top-48 qualifying spot with the 39th-fastest time in the West in the 10,000m. With only one major opportunity to make a statement still on the schedule for NU at the fast-approaching Drake Relays, the Cats have little time to reclaim the qualifying spots that will extend their season and will have to hope this midseason lull powers them to a strong finish to their outdoor season.

NU next takes the track at the Drake Relays, which span from Thursday to Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa.

Email: [email protected]