The women’s cross-country team placed 13th at the 2018 NCAA Division II National Championships meet Saturday, Dec. 1 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Head Coach Russ Jewett believes the team got off to a rocky start but ended well and she was proud of them.
“…We figured if we could be in the top 15 it would be a really good outcome,” Jewett said. “We were 18th last year. We may have been able to do just a little bit better. I think we were just a little bit too aggressive the first half-mile of the race, maybe, and that is my fault because of the way I described the race plan, but … they recovered well. They lost a lot of ground in the middle. At one time they were 21st place as a team. They have all these electronical ways of telling you what place you are in at any given time as a team … I was really proud of our girls for never giving up, never giving in, and really racing just about as well as we could as a team. (We) had a great one to five grouping, we were only 27 seconds apart from our first to fifth runner and that is kind of our identity for the year … So, I was really proud of them.”
Redshirt senior Katren Rienbolt stood out to Jewett during the championship meet.
“Katren Rienbolt (stood out to me) maybe just a little more this meet than other meets,” Jewett said. “She had … a relatively bad start, but really fought her way back very well. She made up a lot of ground in the middle probably more than anyone did … She was our lead runner down the stretch; she was not our lead runner early, but she got some help from her teammates. … So, she distinguished herself that way.”
According to Jewett, the women have grown as a team this season and she saw that team dynamic during this meet.
“Obviously, there’s some veterans on this team, but they still as a group grew in terms of the identity of the team … I think this pack mentality we had really just caught on fire and got even more intense as we went through the season,” she said. “We did not have any runners that were like All-American, at the top level necessarily, but these girls embraced the fact that they care a lot about one another. They train hard side by side and you can see that energy and they give it all on the course. I think they grew closer and they were willing to really sacrifice more and more as the season went for each other. It’s really a cool thing to be part of.”
As this was the last meet of the season, Jewett is proud of all the things the team has accomplished this year.
“I’m just really proud of these ladies,” she said. “They are awfully good students. We have an aggregate total GPA on this team of right at 3.7, something and that is pretty impressive with all the time they spend at what they do. So they lead very balanced lives, they are not just runners. I’m just proud to be their coach.”