Cross Country: Wildcats compete, have fun in intrasquad time trials


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Elizabeth Bulat runs in the Loyola Lakefront Invite in 2019.

Sophia Scanlan, Sports Editor

When runners showed up to practice on Oct. 16, they traded in regular running gear for costumes. Half of the squad came dressed as “stereotypical dads” — bucket hats, fanny packs and flannels — and the other half showed up wearing all black and wacky socks.

The outfits separated the two teams competing in Northwestern’s intrasquad matchup. In lieu of actual meets this fall, the Wildcats have scheduled four time trials, ranging in distance from 3,200 meters to 6,000 meters. The Oct. 16 matchup marked the third of the season, with runners racing a two-mile course past Kellogg Global Hub and Norris University Center and then south along the lake.

Coach Jill Miller said that she and her coaching staff got together at the start of the season to brainstorm ways to give runners a competitive atmosphere, but also an opportunity to have fun. Thus far, she’s been pleased with NU’s performance in the time trials.

“I’m really impressed with how smart they’ve been running,” Miller said. “While we do have splits marked for them, they’re not on a track — they don’t really have a ton of metrics guiding them. So, I’m really impressed with how smart they’ve been and also pushing through (in) the moments when you know they’re hurting.”

Sophomore Kalea Bartolotto crossed the finish line first at 10:43, picking up a 13-second personal record. Her previous record at 10:56 came when she was in high school and running with spikes on a track.

The California native said she was especially proud of her time given the unpredictable weather during the time trial.

“I was very, very happy,” Bartolotto said. “I was hoping for a sub-10:45, and I’m really happy that (I got it) even with the rain and the wind… it was a really weird 30-second storm.”

Junior Olivia Verbeke — a member of the “stereotypical dads” team — came in second with a time of 10:57. Though Verbeke said she wished she performed better in terms of time, she still considered the time trial a successful event.

The trial simulated a real competition, Verbeke said, in that she and her teammates prioritized the race in the week leading up to it and recovery the day before.

“It was fun to get out there and race against girls you would race against in a real race setting,” Verbeke said. “But it was also kind of nice in that it took off a little bit of the edge and the pressure just because you knew it was more to test your fitness and see where you’re at.”

Though not everyone participated in the race itself — some runners did alternative workouts — everyone was assigned to one of the two teams. As runners crossed the finish line, members of both squads would be cheering and screaming for their teammates.

“It’s easier to lose sight of the fun factor right now, but it has to be fun. We put in so much hard work, and it’s painful work that we do,” Miller said. “We’ve got to find ways to come together as a group and really define these moments, create memories and keep it exciting.”

Correction: A previous version of the article had a caption misidentifying junior Elizabeth Bulat as junior Kalea Bartolotto. The Daily regrets the error. 

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Twitter: @sophia_scanlan

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