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Cross Country: Northwestern slumps to poor finish at NCAA Pre-Nationals

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Two Wildcats run alongside each other. Northwestern struggled to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Pre-Nationals.

Two Wildcats run alongside each other. Northwestern struggled to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Pre-Nationals.

Daily file photo by Tucker Johnson

Daily file photo by Tucker Johnson

Two Wildcats run alongside each other. Northwestern struggled to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Pre-Nationals.

Max Schuman, Sports Editor

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Cross Country


Sometimes, you just aren’t feeling your best.

Northwestern ran into that problem at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet Saturday, as many Wildcats dealt with a head cold that had spread through the squad, en route to a 39th-place finish in a field of 42.

While many of NU’s runners struggled to get into the race, freshman Aubrey Roberts was the brightest spot for the Cats. Despite fighting through illness and fading over the last kilometer of the 6K race, Roberts clocked in with a season-best 20:53.9, good for 42nd place individually and continuing a promising first collegiate season.

NU wasn’t able to take advantage of a strong race from its freshman leader, as Coach ‘A Havahla Haynes said the Cats failed to stick to their strategy of running as a pack for the majority of the race. Freshman Sarah Nicholson, who was NU’s second-best finisher with a time of 21:40.6, said running without her teammates made it difficult to get into a rhythm.

“We all had an idea of who we’d run with,” Nicholson said. “When we weren’t able to stick with those girls, I think a lot of people felt lost.”

Well behind Roberts and Nicholson, junior Haley Albers finished in 22:58.3. Senior Andrea Ostenso turned in a time of 23:07.6, while junior Brooke Pigneri rounded out the Cats’ top five with a time of 23:37.1.

With more than 250 runners competing in the race, Pigneri said NU could have done a better job carving out space in the masses from the starting gun.

“Everyone’s going through the same thing, so it’s just being tough, maybe throwing some elbows,” she said. “Even if the first (kilometer) is really rough … it’s worth getting out there so you don’t get stuck behind other girls.”

The meet, which was held on the same course that will host the NCAA National Championships, attracted a deep and talented field that included eight of the top 25 teams in the country, including Big Ten rival Michigan. Despite the challenging opposition and the troubles with illness, Haynes said she was disappointed with the Cats’ ultimate finish.

NU now has two weeks remaining before the Big Ten Championships, and Haynes thinks the Cats have room for improvement in the interim.

“I don’t think we completely put ourselves in the race,” she said. “We didn’t meet expectations, and I think we’re better than what we did … we have some work to do leading into Big Tens for sure.”

Email: maxschuman2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @maxschuman28

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