Cross Country: Consistency at the top not enough for the Cats

Ellie Friedmann, Reporter

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Northwestern was far from top form this past weekend at the Roy Griak Invitational, as rust may have trumped rest for the Wildcats who have not competed since Sept. 12.

After an impressive performance at the season opener in Madison, Wisconsin, junior Jena Pianin finished first for the Wildcats again on Saturday, but she finished 95th overall out of 243 runners. She ran the 6-kilometer course at the University of Minnesota in 23 minutes, 18.7 seconds.

Finishing close behind Pianin, seniors Elena Barham and Rachel Weathered clocked 23:20.4 and 23:25.5, respectively. NU’s three top runners, who finished in the same order at the Badger Season Opener, have shown consistency and strength early in the season.

In a deep field of 26 teams, the Cats finished 20th behind Big Ten competitors Michigan State (second), Minnesota (third) and Illinois (ninth). For a stronger team finish at future meets, the runners in positions four through seven for NU will need to move up toward the leading pack.

Freshman Hannah Anderson has shown serious potential to run fast times and be a regular top-five finisher for the Cats this season. After posting the top time among the NU runners at the UW-Parkside Midwest Open, Anderson finished fourth for the Cats on Saturday, outracing several veterans on the team for a 24:00 finish.

The Cats will travel to South Bend, Indiana, next to race in the Notre Dame Invitational on Friday. Pianin, a consistent front-runner so far this season, will look to repeat her standout performance from last year’s Notre Dame Invitational, where she recorded a season-best time for the 5-kilometer distance of 16:45.9 and took first for the Cats.