Wildcats finish fifth in Minnesota


Tyler Young

Northern Michigan University’s Cross Country team, ranked 19th in the nation among Division II teams, competed at the Roy Graik Cross Country Invitational in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Saturday.  Of the 41 teams that were represented at the meet, NMU placed 5th overall, boasting two top-ten finishers.

On the hot, humid day, Sophomore Katelyn Smith finished 3rd in the field of 401, recording a time of 22:44.4, over two-and-a-half minutes better than she ran at the same meet last year as a freshman.

NMU’s other top-ten finish came from Vivian Hett, a senior.  Hett posted a time of 22:53.8, good for 6th place overall in her first competition of 2017.  Hett’s performance made her GLIAC Runner of the Week, marking the third week in a row that an NMU athlete has gotten the honor.

“It shows that we’re having a strong season so far,” Hett said of her team’s performance.  “We’re coming back and pushing it harder than we did last year.  I think we did well.  We were missing our top girl [Kameron Burmeister] because she was sick, and a few others probably didn’t have their best races, but I think it shows that when we are at full strength, we’ll do very well.”

Also scoring points for the Wildcats was junior Abby Fifarek, taking 46th overall with a time of 23:49.6.  Kieren Becker and Sophie McDonald, both juniors, finished 68th and 69th with times of 24:09.9 and 24:12.0 respectively, rounding out NMU’s point-getters.

Sophomore Hannah Torvi took 109th place with a time of 24:55.0, and junior Maddy Walters was the last Wildcat runner to cross the finish line, finishing in 25:36.1, good for 137th place. Although Walters’ time was the slowest on NMU’s roster for the race, she still finished ahead of more than half of the field, surely a good sign for the team going forward.

“I think that we’re going to have a really strong season,” Hett predicted.  “We have a few girls that have picked up the pace from last year, so it’s really good to see that our strength is improving.  Individually we’re growing, we’re growing together as a team, so I’m really excited to see where we go this year.”

Winning the meet was Simon Fraser University, having had four of their seven runners finish in the top 20.  Taking second place was Pittsburgh State University, third was the University of Mary and fourth was Augustana University.

Burmeister is expected to return for the Wildcats’ next meet.

The NMU runners will lace up their shoes again on Saturday, September 30th, for the Bay College Invitational in Escanaba.