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Cross Country: Wildcats run to successful weekend at Pre-Nationals

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Aubrey Roberts leads a pack of runners. The sophomore led Northwestern with a 34th place finish at NCAA Pre-Nationals on Saturday.

Aubrey Roberts leads a pack of runners. The sophomore led Northwestern with a 34th place finish at NCAA Pre-Nationals on Saturday.

Source: Northwestern Athletics

Source: Northwestern Athletics

Aubrey Roberts leads a pack of runners. The sophomore led Northwestern with a 34th place finish at NCAA Pre-Nationals on Saturday.

Alison Albelda, Reporter

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Cross Country


In the land of Louisville Sluggers, Northwestern didn’t strike out.

After finishing 39th a year ago, the Wildcats placed 19th of 43 teams at Saturday’s NCAA Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. NU finished with 566 points, just five points behind the 18th finisher, Abilene Christian.

NU’s top sophomores once again led the way, with Aubrey Roberts finishing 34th with a time of 20:30.0, and Sarah Nicholson coming in 70th with a time of 20:56.4.

Roberts said she was pleased with the team’s racing this weekend, and said she saw the meet as a way to judge the team’s fitness and see if they could handle harder competition.

“The start of the race was a little surprising, the (race) leaders went out pretty hard,” Roberts said. “We handled ourselves pretty well and our team rose to the occasion.”

After a disappointing performance last year, the Cats placed 20 spots higher and defeated No. 24 Missouri, last year’s regional champion, by 100 points. The Cats’ performance this weekend was good enough to move them up one spot to fourth in the NCAA rankings for the Midwest region.

“This race was very indicative of what kind of competition you might get at a meet like (NCAA) Nationals,” Nicholson said. “The biggest challenge for us at this meet was maneuvering around so many people.”

Nicholson, who placed 126th last year at Pre-Nationals, added that the course lacked hills and sharp turns, which contributed to NU’s strong performance.

After the two sophomores, senior Haley Albers finished with a time of 21:38.4. Seniors Andrea Ostenso and Sara Coffey followed close behind with times of 21:47.7 and 21:49.0, respectively.

The seeded race had nearly 300 runners. Though only the top seven NU runners participated in the seeded event, NCAA Pre-Nationals featured an unseeded race, giving the entire roster a chance to compete at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park.

Coach ‘A Havahla Haynes said the Cats’ training prepared them for the tough competition this past weekend.

“Getting Missouri and getting Texas, who was ranked pretty highly in their region, was great for us,” Haynes said. “We just need to shorten our gap between our one and five runners. That’s kind of the take away from the entire trip.”

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