Cross Country: Roberts qualifies for NCAA Championships in strong performance by Northwestern

Max Schuman, Sports Editor

Cross Country

Northwestern saved its best team performance for its last full team meet of the season Friday, and one Wildcat earned one more chance to run this fall.

Freshman Aubrey Roberts extended her impressive first season at NU by finishing fourth individually at the NCAA Midwest Regionals to clinch an individual bid to the NCAA Championships. Her performance helped boost the Cats to an eighth-place finish as a team, their lowest placement at the meet since 2012.

Coming off a solid Big Ten Championships at which she earned all-conference honors, Roberts ran near the front of a tightly-bunched lead group in the early stages, sitting in and around the top 20. But as the leaders separated over the second half of the race, NU’s top finisher moved to the front and held on over the last kilometer to secure her top-four place. Roberts clocked in at 20:17.1 when she reached the finish line, her personal best on a 6K course.

NU’s remaining runners put together strong showings of their own to complement Roberts and move the team up the standings. Freshman Sarah Nicholson was the Cats’ second-best runner on the day, finishing 18th in 20:43.8, while senior Jena Pianin and junior Isabel Seidel took 62nd and 63rd, respectively. Junior Haley Albers rounded out NU’s scorers, finishing 120th in a field of more than 200.

Those solid finishes behind Roberts helped the Cats improve mightily on last season’s 26th-place finish at the regional meet. NU also finished second among five Big Ten teams at the meet, slotting in behind Minnesota.

By being one of the top-four runners from a team outside of the automatically-qualifying top-two teams, Roberts locked down a bid to NCAAs, which will take place on Nov. 19. The freshman is the first runner to qualify for NCAAs from the Cats since Audrey Huth did so in 2010.

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