Cross Country: Cats return to Big Ten contention powered by veteran roster


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Elizabeth Bulat runs in the Loyola Lakefront Invite in 2019.

Charlotte Varnes, Senior Staffer

Northwestern cross country looks to return to conference contention in 2021 powered by a talented, veteran roster. 

The Wildcats are bringing back most of their top runners for the upcoming school year, including every runner that earned team points at the 2021 Big Ten Cross Country Championships. NU will again see a powerful duo in junior Kalea Bartolotto and senior Rachel McCardell, the team’s top two runners at the 2021 Big Ten Cross Country Championships who also dominated the 3,000-meter race and 5,000-meter race during the 2021 track season.

Despite strong individual performances, NU faced difficulty during competition last year with a seventh-place finish out of 10 teams at the 2021 Big Ten Championships. The Cats will rely on Bartolotto and McCardell’s leadership to improve in-conference during the upcoming cross country season. 

However, NU delivered several impressive performances during the track season, including a record-breaking 3,000-meter race from McCardell in addition to other runners achieving personal bests. While the Cats will return most of their starpower on the track, they will lose Clare Severe, a graduate student who dominated the 1,500-meter race in her last season. 

The upcoming cross country, indoor track and outdoor track seasons will mark the third year of coach Jill Miller’s leadership. Miller, who was hired in July 2019, has yet to coach a full school year at NU without COVID-19 cancellations and restrictions. While the Cats have not yet released their 2021-22 schedule, the upcoming school year may provide an opportunity for Miller and her athletes to experience a more normal, complete three seasons as pandemic restrictions ease and vaccination numbers rise. 

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: @charvarnes11

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