Cross Country: Aubrey Roberts just misses out on NCAA Outdoor Championships qualification


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Aubrey Roberts turns a lap. The junior finished in 17th place overall in the 5K race at NCAA West Preliminaries.

Troy Closson, In Focus Editor

Cross Country

After landing All-American nods in both the cross country and indoor track seasons, junior Aubrey Roberts won’t have the opportunity to go for a three-peat.

The Wisconsin native narrowly missed out on qualifying for the outdoor track championships at this weekend’s NCAA West Preliminaries. She was the only Northwestern runner to qualify for the regional meet.

During Saturday’s 5,000-meter race, Roberts finished 17th overall and 8th in her heat with a time of 16:03. The top five runners from each heat — along with the next two fastest finishers — qualified for June’s NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Austin, Texas.

Through the first eight laps, Roberts stayed within a second of the lead pack — made up of New Mexico sophomore Weini Kelati, Arkansas junior Taylor Werner and Oklahoma freshman Haley Herberg. After the 3K mark, her 1:17 400-meter split was the fastest of the field.

With two laps left in the race, Kelati and Werner had separated from the pack, but Roberts still sat toward the back of a group of six runners. But after running speedy 1:13 and 1:14 splits for the two previous 400s, Roberts began to taper off, falling four seconds behind seventh-place Oklahoma junior Carmela Cardama Baez by the 4600-meter mark.

After five runners kicked in the last 400 meters to post splits under 1:10, Roberts steady effort wasn’t enough to bring her up into the top five.

Though coach ‘A Havahla Haynes said last month that Roberts had qualifying for NCAA Championships “on her radar” since the end of the indoor season, the two-time All-American will yet again have to wait for another shot at Austin.

At last year’s NCAA West Regional Preliminary, Roberts posted a 5K time of 15:53, good for 14th place overall, but two spots out of a trip to NCAAs.

This time around, Minnesota redshirt sophomore Bethany Hasz — crossing the line in 15:47 — was the only Big Ten runner from the meet to qualify for the June race.

The weekend caps off a history-making year for Roberts, who became the first two-time All-American in program history and set school records in the mile, 3000-meter race and 5K during her junior year campaign.

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