The Daily Northwestern

Cross Country: Wildcats head to Louisville for Pre-Nationals

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Three Northwestern runners round a turn. The Wildcats will compete at NCAA Pre-Nationals this weekend.

Three Northwestern runners round a turn. The Wildcats will compete at NCAA Pre-Nationals this weekend.

Source: Northwestern Athletics

Source: Northwestern Athletics

Three Northwestern runners round a turn. The Wildcats will compete at NCAA Pre-Nationals this weekend.

Alison Albelda, Reporter

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Cross Country


Just 17 miles from Churchill Downs, Northwestern will take the track this weekend at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park.

The Wildcats will travel to Louisville’s home course Saturday for NCAA Pre-Nationals, where they will face 43 other teams, including Big Ten foes Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan. The race will see NU compete in its second 6-kilometer race of the season.

Though only the top seven runners will participate in the seeded event, NCAA Pre-Nationals features an unseeded race, giving every Cats runner the opportunity to compete.

Senior Haley Albers, who finished third for NU two weekends ago at the Cowboy Jamboree, said the team is looking forward to scouting future competition Saturday.

“We will be looking for teams from the Big Ten and from our region to be competitive with,” Albers said. “Specifically, we will aim to challenge teams like Missouri and Ohio State.”

NU placed just 16 points behind the Tigers in the Cats’ first meet of the season. Their performance was good enough to move up one spot to fifth in the Midwest region rankings, the highest NU has been ranked in the past four years.

Sophomore Aubrey Roberts, who finished third overall at the team’s last meet, said this weekend will provide a barometer for the bigger races to come. Roberts anticipates more challengers near the front of the race and looks forward to the competition.

“I’m looking forward to see what we can do with our training,” Roberts said. “We can definitely improve upon our performances at Oklahoma State, and as a team it’ll be cool to see how many teams we can beat and how well we can race as a pack.”

Coach ‘A Havahla Haynes said the weekend’s main goal is to compete as well as possible. She praised the team’s health for its consistency and success in practice.

Beyond NU’s top two runners, Roberts and sophomore Sarah Nicholson, Haynes identified freshman Hannah Tobin and seniors Sara Coffey and Albers as key runners this weekend.

Under Haynes’ coaching, the team’s primary focus the next few weeks is postseason preparation. NCAA Nationals will also be in Louisville, giving the Cats the chance to familiarize themselves with the course Saturday.

“This weekend, while it is competitive and important, it does not change our trajectory of what we have been doing in training,” Haynes said. “Our goals have always been set on the championship season which consists of Big Ten (Championships), NCAA Regionals and hopefully then NCAA Nationals.”

Email: alisonalbelda2021@u.northwestern.edu

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