Oct. 31, 2008
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois cross country team's season culminates with the Mid-American Conference Cross Country Championships, Saturday, in Ypsilanti, Mich.
According to NIU distance coach Mark McConeghey, the season has been about consistent improvement.
"We're much better than we were at the beginning of the year," he said. "Last week we beat a team we hadn't beaten before, and those are the small steps you take on the way to being successful."
McConeghey referred to Green Bay, who the Huskies outran, Oct. 17, at the Bradley Cross Country classic in Peoria, Ill. NIU finished 18 points ahead of the Phoenix, led by a 22:51 effort by sophomore Sunsea Shaw (South Bend, Ind./Riley) in the six-kilometer race.
Shaw will compete at the MAC Championships alongside seniors Meghan Ginter (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley), Ashley Rittenbacher (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central), and Denisse Valladares (Mt. Prospect, Ill./Hersey). Sophomore Breanna Brevitt (Dixon, Ill./Dixon), and freshmen Jessica Troike (Tuscola, Ill./Tuscola) and Jackie Sciacaro (Sterling, Ill./Sterling) will also compete for the Huskies.
"The kids that are here are really focused, really ready to run MACs," McConeghey said. "They know what the have to do, and we have the capability of beating several teams this year."
McConeghey said the Huskies are competing at a higher level later in the season than they did in the beginning of the year because they are running together.
"They're running as a pack," he said. "Everyone has a job that they know they have to do, and I think they're really focused on it."
For the seniors, the MAC Championships could be their last meet, as the Huskies aren't guaranteed to make the trip the NCAA Regionals in Stillwater, Okla., Nov. 15.
"I've got three seniors running that know this may be their last meet, ever," McConeghey said. "Hopefully, we'll step up and do what we're capable of doing."