This weekend, the men’s and women’s cross country teams will head south to Atlanta, GA, to compete in the UAA Cross Country Championships. The Championships bring together some of the nation’s top runners on the same course. Third-years Khia Kurtenbach and Peter Kreuch are looking to replicate their performances from last year when they each snagged top-ten finishes and were named All-UAA performers.
On the men’s side, the South Siders might have a tough time winning the championship, as Wash U has won for the past six years, and Carnegie Mellon University is ranked No. 10 in the polls. Kreuch is confident in his squad and, in particular, its leadership from the upperclassmen. Kruech said, “The team is looking good. We’ve had some bumps in the road this season, but I’m confident that people will be healthy and ready to perform this week.”
Kreuch and the other upperclassmen seem to be finding their groove at the right time with fourth-year Timofey Karginov placing 15th last week at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh Kollege Town Sports Invitational in a field that featured some of the top schools in the country. Kruech expects a big performance from Karginov, saying, “He’s one of our captains. He’s going to run exceptionally well and lead the squad from the front.”
On the women’s side, Chicago looks to bring the title back to the South Side for the first time since 2013. Wash U will be a formidable competitor, having won the last two championships and being ranked No. 4 in all of DIII. Chicago does bring a bunch of experience for the championship. Leading the pack is Kurtenbach. Kurtenbach returns following one of the most decorated seasons in cross country history at UChicago. She breezed through the Oshkosh event last week and grabbed 11th place overall. The third-year revealed that the key to the team’s success thus far has been one word: consistency. “Our team has done a great job performing consistently throughout the season,” she said. “As our meets get progressively more competitive, especially going into conference, it’s important for us to just keep being consistent.”
Kurtenbach stays confident in her team’s ability and is excited about the opportunity to race such great competition at the UAA Championships. “If we all perform like we are capable of, I think we have a good chance to place well at conference. Wash U has a really deep team, but there's definitely a chance we could beat them if we all have a great race. Most importantly, we want to build our team’s resume by performing well at conference to increase our chances of qualifying for the national meet.”
The All-American also humbly commented on her success and race strategy, saying, “I’m hoping to execute a smart race, try to be near the front of the pack, and see where that leaves me over the last 1,000 meters of the race.”
The men’s 8K race begins at 9:30 a.m. with the women’s 6K race following at 10:15 a.m. at McIntosh Reserve Park in Whitesburg, GA.