With a field of over 400 runners and 39 teams the Wildcat cross country squad, competed in the Maroon Division at the Roy Griak on Saturday, Sept. 29 in St. Paul, Minn.
The ’Cats captured a ninth place finish at the world’s largest cross country meet that featured over 2,000 runners total.
Head coach Jenny Ryan said it wasn’t the team’s best race of the year but it was a good meet to see where the team stands against solid competition.
“Our team is really working well together and doing a great job,” Ryan said. “This was a big meet and to finish ninth against some of the top teams in the whole country was definitely a good result.”
The race conditions weren’t ideal, the temperature was 80 degrees and the ’Cats starting point wasn’t centrally located which Ryan said made for an uphill battle.
“We didn’t have a great start box, it was kind of way on the one side,” Ryan said. “At the beginning the team got boxed in a little bit and the course narrows down pretty quick so we kind of got stuck a little bit further back and they had to spend a lot of time working their way back up to the crowd.”
Junior Mallory Celaya was the first to cross the line for NMU in 29th place with a time of 23 minutes, 36.6 seconds. It was the second race in a row Celaya was the top finisher for the ’Cats. Junior Mandy Dye returned after missing a meet due to sickness to finish 33rd with a time of 23:42.2.
Freshman Megan Edic who finished third for the ’Cats with a time of 24:09.5 said the team worked on running together in the crowded field.
“For the majority of the race the strategy was to race together as a team,” Edic said. “We formed small packs of girls who run around the same pace and we used this to help push each other and pick off competition, moving forward together.”
NMU hosts their only home meet of the season at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12 at the NMU Golf Course. The ’Cats will take on Michigan Tech, Finlandia University and Gogebic Community College.
The Wildcats don’t run this weekend and Edic thinks the time off won’t effect the team.
“I’ve heard that there won’t be a ton of teams coming to compete but I expect that with a weekend off we will all be fired up and ready to kill it no matter what.”