Cross Country: Northwestern races out to personal and program records at BU Valentine Invitational


Photo courtesy of Fast Women

Freshman Mia Mraz takes in the moment across the finish line. Mraz’s 5,000-meter time was the fastest by an NU true freshman since 2002.

Jake Epstein, Assistant Sports Editor

After a rotated crew ran rampant in South Bend, Indiana on Feb. 3 and 4, Northwestern embarked to New England, seeking a string of positive performances Friday at the Boston University David Hemery Valentine Invitational. Collegiate and professional runners packed the BU Track and Tennis Center, where records and accolades hung in the balance.

The running events began with the preliminary three heats of the women’s 5,000-meter run. Three young Wildcats earned heat three seeding and looked to generate early NU momentum against a field of NCAA Division I, Division III, postcollegiate and unaffiliated runners.

Freshman Mia Mraz understood the task at hand and delivered to the tune of the morning’s top time. Mraz turned in her personal best 5K of the indoor season, defeating Liberty Track Club’s Abigail Corrigan by 0.28 seconds in a heat-clinching 17:13.48 finish. The first-year star appeared to be in utter disbelief as she crossed the finish line, and coach Jill Miller rushed over to congratulate the school’s fastest true freshman 5K runner since 2002.

Ten seconds later, sophomore Fiona Lenth crossed the finish line in 17:23.42 and secured fifth place in the heat. Rounding off the heat’s top-half, sophomore Whitney Currie finished in 11th.

While the morning provided plenty of firepower, four Cats lined up in various heats to take on runners from across the country in the 3,000-meter run.

Graduate student Rachel McCardell ran in a stacked second group and stayed within three seconds of the lead heading into the final lap. BYU’s Sadie Sargent topped the heat, breaking nine minutes in an 8:59.91 victory. McCardell clawed her way up the ranks and finished seventh in a school-record time of 9:02.90. She shaved 15 seconds off her personal best and placed 17th overall in an event that featured Team USA’s Valerie Constein and several sponsored athletes.

Minutes later, sophomore Ava Earl lined up in heat five. Earl started in the top five but fell to a ninth place 9:25.64 time in a group dominated by Virginia Tech’s Ava Hassebrock.

Two heats later, sophomore Anna Hightower won by a whisker in 9:31.56, as Western Ontario’s Anna Carruthers closely followed in 9:31.76.

Rounding off the event for NU, freshman Maddy Whitman finished seventh in heat nine.

The meet culminated in the final five 5,000-meter heats, where three Cats looked to emulate their teammates’ successes in the morning race. Senior Kalea Bartolotto sped out to a 16:36.04 time, landing in eighth place in heat four. Junior Katherine Hessler and graduate student Olivia Verbeke closed out the meet with third and fourth place heat five finishes in 16:56.63 and 17:03.67, respectively.

Miller’s squad will now regroup and put in its final preparations for the Margarette Bradley Invitational in Chicago on Saturday. With a historic meet in the rearview mirror, NU looks ready to go full speed ahead in its final meet of the indoor season.

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Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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