The UChicago women’s cross country team will lace up this weekend in Kentucky for the NCAA Championship. This marks the seventh straight season the Maroons have qualified for the NCAA nationals. Currently ranked 15th in the country, the team looks to bring home some hardware.
The Maroons earned an at-large team bid after placing four runners in the top 40 in a highly competitive regional this past weekend. This weekend, the Maroons will see many familiar faces in the likes of UAA teams Emory and Wash U, and regional competitor University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.
The Maroons will be anchored by third-year Khia Kurtenbach, who won the regional this past weekend and was recently named the Regional Runner of the Year via the U.S Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The Maroons will also look for strong performances out of third-years Cassidy McPherson and Kelsey Dunn and fourth-year Madeline Horvath who all picked up All-Region accolades this past weekend.
McPherson feels the team is clicking right now, running its best races with a healthy squad. “It's been a really great season so far. It's been fun to see how our team has progressed, we had a lot of injuries at the beginning of the year which hurt our depth a bit, but as we've gotten healthier we've continued to progress and I really think we are running our best when it matters.”
The Maroons have had a season for the books, but they look to continue writing it. They have the opportunity to top the all-time UChicago record of fourth place, which came in 2013. “We're really excited for nationals. It means so much to be able to carry on the legacy of success that the women's cross country team has achieved for the last seven years,” said Horvath. “We're running against the top teams in the country, and I believe that we'll be most successful if we run confidently, with the goal to take one more step forward.”
The team has been tapering workouts since post-season has begun, relying on their preparation all season to shine through. “We've put so much hard work into this season, and this week we're just doing some light workouts to maintain fitness and maximize efficiency,” said Horvath. “All of our workouts earlier this season have been to prepare us for November, and every meet we've taken a step forward.”
“People are stepping up every week and contributing and everyone is working towards a common goal,” said McPherson. “NCAAs will obviously be challenging and will put some of us in positions we maybe haven't been in yet this season, but I feel we all are ready both physically and mentally to put it all out there on Saturday and see how we match up against the best DIII teams in the country.”
The NCAA Championship will take place this Saturday at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky, at 11 a.m. EST.