Cross Country: Northwestern heads to Minnesota to compete in third race of the season


Daily file photo by Tucker Johnson

A group of Northwestern runners run in a pack. The Wildcats will be led by two freshmen, Aubrey Roberts and Sarah Nicholson, as they travel to the Griak Invitational on Saturday.

Keshia Johnson, Reporter

Cross Country

Northwestern is looking to set a higher standard this Saturday.

The Wildcats will head to Minneapolis to compete against 36 other Division I teams at the Griak Invitational. Eight Wildcats will run on a 6K course through the Les Bolstad Golf Course, the site of this year’s Big Ten Championships.

When NU competed in the Griak last year, it placed in the top 25. But this year, with some new faces, the Cats are aiming for the top 15, coach ‘A Havahla Haynes said.

“It’s a highly competitive meet — one of the most competitive in the nation,” she said. “This type of meet sets us up for at-large bids and points for the national meet.”

Haynes said freshmen Aubrey Roberts and Sarah Nicholson will likely be NU’s head runners on Saturday. Roberts and Nicholson finished 1-2 at the team’s opening meet this season, the Illini Challenge.

Junior Brooke Pigneri, one of the upperclassmen entered in this weekend’s meet, said the older runners on the team are trying to help ease the nerves of NU’s promising freshmen.

“I think they’re kind of scared with all the new stuff that’s going on,” she said. “All they have to do is really just run and be confident and focus on the task at hand.”

NU will get a chance to compete against several solid, nationally-ranked Big Ten squads, like
Michigan State, Michigan and host Minnesota on Saturday. While the Cats aren’t at that level, Pigneri said that the race will still be a valuable experience that will help prepare the team for Big Tens on Oct. 30.

“My goals for this race is to get accustomed to the course and be able to mentally get through it, so when I get there for (Big Tens), I can really excel through it,” Pigneri said.

Haynes said NU’s performance in the first mile will go a long way to determining how the team will finish the race, and she feels that a big improvement from last season is within reach.

“Our goal as a group is to run as best as you can at this point in the season,” Haynes said. “If you can do that, it just sets up for better progress later on.”

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