DEKALB, Ill. - Senior Courtney Oldenburg broke the school's 34-year old 5K record Friday at the NIU Open as the Northern Illinois cross country team finished in third place.
On the day, NIU easily defeated DePaul, UIC and Chicago State. The Huskies' trailed only Northwestern and Marquette in the final standings, falling mere points behind the Golden Eagles.
"I think it was a really good meet for us," said NIU head coach Greg Hipp. "We certainly have some pieces of the puzzle to put together - we need to get our fifth runner closer - but we have seven weeks to do that and we have some people who are certainly capable of getting in that position. Courtney Oldenburg (had) a tremendous improvement from last year, along with our newcomers stepping up and giving us a shot against some good programs. Another good meet for us, but we see the potential for us to do more once we get our fifth runner in the position that she's capable of being in."
Without a doubt, the highlight of the day was Oldenburg's record-setting run on the Huskies' home course. Hanging with the lead pack for the vast majority of the race, the West Salem, Wis., native sat in fourth entering the final 100 meters. With the help of a raucous home crowd, Oldenburg overtook NU's Lexie Goldsmith in the final meters to cross the finish line at 18:07.81.
Her time eclipsed NIU's previous record of 18:12, which was set in 1978 by Colleen Buck. Combined with her 6K record from 2010, Oldenburg now sits atop both lists in NIU history.
"Courtney's certainly been one of the catalyst people of NIU cross country and getting it going.," Hipp said. "She's led the way for four years and the work that she's done is helping us get this program turned around."
The Huskies also got strong performances from freshmen Leah Raffety and Ali Olson. Rafetty placed 13th with an 18:28.99 clip, while Olson ran an 18:29.88 mark for a 14th place showing - marking the second-straight race that the freshmen duo finished two-three in the NIU lineup.
Sophomore Jamie Burr ranked fourth among NIU runners by claiming 27th with a time of 18:54.81, taking nearly three seconds off her time at the same meet in 2011. Closing out the scoring was Juliane Totzke, who ran a 19:47.91 time and finished in 42nd place.
Claire McAuley placed 47th with a 20:13.36 mark. Meanwhile, Katie Janssen finished in 50th place at 20:23.58 and Alexis Capps rounded out the NIU field at 21:09.95.
The NIU cross country team will get the next few weeks off before returning to action Saturday, Sept. 29, with the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational in downtown Chicago, Ill.