Cross Country: Northwestern shifts gears at Meyo Invitational


Photo courtesy of Megan Slamkowski

A group of Northwestern runners warm up before a race. The Cats placed three 5,000-meter runners inside the top 20 in South Bend.

Jake Epstein, Assistant Sports Editor

While wind whipped across the Midwest, nine Northwestern runners set their sights on South Bend, Indiana. Student athletes from across the nation flocked to Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center as the indoor track season continued at the Meyo Invitational this past weekend.

First up for the Wildcats was the 5,000-meter event, where five NU runners helped form the 30-competitor field Friday evening. The Cats’ combination of four upperclassmen and one underclassman hadn’t raced this distance since the cross-country season last fall, and the group looked to shake off any underlying rust against a mix of Big Ten, Mid-American, Missouri Valley, Big East, American and Horizon competition.

While heading into the last lap of the 5,000-meter, three runners jockeyed for position within a second of one another. Central Michigan sophomore Emily Paupore was hot on Ohio sophomore Kelsi Harris’ tail, and some final lap MACtion appeared imminent. Leading from the front was Butler redshirt sophomore Abby Olson, who placed fifth in 2022’s Meyo Invitational 5,000-meter. Olson improved on her top-five finish, pulling away with a 57.25 second final lap to win the event in 16:53.81. Paupore and Harris followed in second and third at 16:57.28 and 16:58.12, respectively.

NU junior Emily Casaclang earned the team’s sole top-ten finish, recording negative splits on her final foul laps en route to a sixth place 17:08.79 time. Seniors Elizabeth Bulat and Kayla Fortino joined Casaclang inside the top-20, crossing the line in 16th and 19th place, respectively.

The next morning, four young NU runners ran the mile event. In a meet with many of their veteran stars back on campus, the freshman and sophomore Cats looked to outmaneuver many of their midwestern foes.

The Big Ten showcased its mid-distance prowess through every step of the 1600-meter course.

Ohio State junior Daniella Santos overtook Illinois sophomore Halle Hill during the second lap and didn’t look back. Santos cruised to a 4:45.06 personal best time, and her senior teammate Andrea Kuhn finished second after a 4:48.48 performance. Hill and Buckeye junior Gia Napoleon rounded off a Big Ten top-four sweep in the following two seconds.

Coach Jill Miller’s squad placed two top-30 runners in the 47-runner field. Freshman Maddy Whitman culminated her run in 5:03.56, earning the London native a 25th overall finish, good for second among all freshmen. Sophomore Fiona Lenth followed a second behind and placed 28th.

The indoor track season continues for NU, as the squad heads to New England for its next meet. With a likely reshuffled group, the Cats look to turn heads in Boston University’s David Hemery Valentine Invitational Friday and Saturday.

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