Friday the 13th proves to be lucky for Northern Illinois women's cross country team



September 14, 2002

WOMEN'S COLLEGE CROSS COUNTRY - Northern University at Bradley Fall Invitational / at Peoria, IL / Detweiller Park / Non-Conference Meet / Friday / September 13, 2002.

Team Scores:
1) Marquette 18
2) Bradley 67
3) Indiana State 105
4) Wisconsin-Milwaukee 139
5) Northern Illinois 142
6) Eastern Illinois 145
7) Evansville 196
8) IUPUI 201
9) Saint Louis 234
10) Wisconsin-Green Bay 245

Huskie Placewinners:
19) Alicia Czajka, 18:34; 39) Michelle Rhoden, 19:04; 46) Laura Dunn, 19:12; 57) Christina Nieto, 19:21;
62) Bonnie Miller, 19:29

Other Huskies Finishers:
78) Renee Kleckner, 19:42; Kim Brokoff, 19:47

Next Huskie Meet: Friday, October 4 - Adidas Notre Dame Invitational, South Bend, IN, 5 p.m.

PEORIA, IL - For some people, Friday the 13th only means back luck, but for the Northern Illinois University women's cross country team it was only good fortunes at the Bradley Fall Invitational. In one of the best races in the seven-year history of the program, the Huskies had all five of its placewinners finish a five kilometer race under 19:30, with all seven runners crossing the finish line in less than 20 minutes.

"This was a breakthrough meet," NIU head coach Shantel Twiggs said. "To have our top five under 19:30 and all seven in under 20 minutes is a major step for this program. Even though we finished fifth, everyone really stepped up their performance. This shows that we're moving in the right direction for the second part of the season and looking ahead to the MAC Championships."

Running at 100 percent for the first time this season, Northern Illinois was led by junior Alicia Czajka (Swarzedz, Poland / Poznan) as she cracked the top-20 with a career-best time of 18:34. Knocking nearly 40 seconds off her personal-best time was sophomore Michelle Rhoden (Joliet / West) as her 39th-place time of 19:04 replaces a former career-low mark of 19:40, set at last year's Bradley meet.

Last week's top runner at the Miami (OH) Invitational, junior Laura Dunn (McHenry) entered the chute with a time of 19:21. Coming in right behind Dunn with a mark of 19:21 was freshman Christina Nieto (South Elgin / Elgin), while sophomore Bonnie Miller (Plainfield) rounded out the Huskie placewinners at 19:29. Also breaking the 20-minute barrier were senior Renee Kleckner (St. Charles) and sophomore Kim Brokhoff (Olney).

"We got an unbelievable race out of Alicja, to finish in the top 20 at this meet is a great performance," Twiggs added. "We ran together as a team and really pushed one another. Coming back to finish ahead of Eastern Illinois shows the improvement we've made and the outlook for the rest of the season is very bright for this team."

The Huskies are back in action on Friday, October 5, when they travel to South Bend, IN, for the Adidas Notre Dame Invitational at 5 p.m.

-Copy by Michael Smoose




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