Cross Country: Northwestern looks to capitalize on reworked training regimen


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Aubrey Roberts, whose cross country career came to a premature end due to the coronavirus. The cross country team will look to capitalize on a reworked training regimen.

John Riker, Reporter

Cross Country

Jill Miller had quite the first year at the helm of Northwestern Cross Country.

Last fall, Miller’s Wildcats had to adjust after an injury sidelined All-American Aubrey Roberts. NU struggled at championship time and finished the season 13th out of 14 teams at the Big Ten championships.

A greater test came months later, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the NCAA to cancel all spring events. Though the Cats’ official season of competition is the fall, the changes still affected NU — the cancellations prevented them from competing in track meets such as the Penn Relays and spurred Miller to completely rework her athletes’ training regimens.

Miller and the Cats aim to build off year one, even with the challenges quarantine has posed to the training schedule. Roberts and Sarah Nicholson finished their careers with NU in the winter, but most of the names that spearheaded the Cats’ 2019 efforts will return to the course this fall.

NU’s top finisher at the Big Ten championships, Kelly O’Brien, chose to come back for a fifth year and should form a consistent 1-2 combination with junior Rachel McCardell. The Cats’ core, primarily first years and sophomores in 2019, will benefit from another year of experience.

In the weeks after the spring season’s cancellation, Miller laid the groundwork for the unique training period, customizing training plans for each of her athletes and strengthening the team culture she established in her first year. From shifting to individual training to working without the certainty of a fall cross country season, NU faced its share of obstacles in preparing for the 2020 season.

Now, the Cats can only hope for an opportunity to prove that their work paid off.

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