The NMU cross country team finished in fifth place at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional competition on Nov. 3, narrowly missing the NCAA national championship.
The team finished with a score of 197 which was 46 points behind fourth place Southern Indiana. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, only the top four teams advance to the national championships.
“I am happy we ran so well,” head coach Jenny Ryan said. “We are a little disappointed about not advancing, but we aren’t heartbroken. We are excited for the future of the team.”
In the race, junior Jenny Wiedmeyer led Northern, finishing 31st win a time of 22:58.45. Wiedmeyer was followed by juniors Bibiane Mahy in 36th (23:05.50) and Danielle Stein 38th (23:08.88). Michelle Bisig, the lone freshman in the race for Northern, finished 42nd (23:16.13). Senior Laura Dewitt was the last scoring Wildcat, finishing 51st (23:23.42).
Sophomore Erin Van Enkevort and senior Brittney Coehoorn also competed for NMU.
“I happened to have one of my best races at regionals,” said Wiedmeyer. “I think I have the team to thank for that. When I was out there and the mental breakdowns started happening, I just wanted to do it for my teammates because I knew they were out there working hard for me.”
Grand Valley State was the team champion with a score of 40. Wayne State, led by individual champion Rachelle Malette (21:12.33), finished in second with 117 points. University of Wisconsin-Parkside finished in third with a score of 130 and Southern Indiana was the last team to advance to the NCAA championship with a score of 151.
“Finishing fifth for our team was an amazing result since we went into the race ranked ninth, according to the USTFCCCA (United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association),” Dewitt said. “Everyone on the team gave it their all and had great races so while it’s easy to be disappointed with being the first team in the results to not make NCAA’s, we did our best and that’s something to be proud of..”
Dewitt had been sick with mono since the LSSU meet on September 7. Dewitt took the place of freshman Kristin Schulz, who was then listed as an alternate for the race.
The Great Lakes Regionals were hosted by Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Ill. The 6 km course was hilly and wooded, similar to the Erie, Penn. course which was the site of this year’s GLIAC championships. These hills did give an advantage to the Wildcats over opponents that specialize on flat courses.
To get to the regional competition, the team decided to fly instead of taking a bus.
“We flew down on Thursday because of the location”, Ryan said. “It let us run the course a few times and helped with the travel lag of driving. [Michigan] Tech decided to drive the 14 hours to get to SIU and it showed with their 17th place finish.”
The Great Lakes Regionals also signified the end of Ryan’s first year as head coach of the team. Ryan took over for Sten Fjeldheim, who handed over the reins to focus more on the Nordic ski teams.
“I am very pleased with how the meets and the training went this season,” said Ryan. “It was a little more stressful, but more exciting-challenging, but satisfying.”