Aubrey Roberts finished second at the Big Ten Championships Sunday, leading Northwestern women’s cross country to a seventh place team finish in a deep field. All six teams that finished in front of Northwestern are ranked in the top 25 nationally.
Unofficial results from 2018 #B1GWXC Championships are in and @UMichTrack looks to have earned its 3rd consecutive title, while Alicia Monson of @BadgerTrackXC takes the individual crown: pic.twitter.com/Uw8ZqyBXEw— Big Ten Champs (@bigtenchamps) October 28, 2018
Going into the race, Roberts said that she knew she wanted to improve upon her sixth place finish at the meet last year. She also knew that she had a chance to win.
Roberts started the race strong, settling in with the front pack. At the halfway point, she was eighth.
“In general, my strategy is to remain calm until two-thirds into the race, and then from there evaluate how I’m feeling and see if I can push the pace,” Roberts said.
At the four kilometer mark, she did exactly that. Picking up the pace significantly, she took the lead and caused the pack to string out to single-file. Only Wisconsin’s Alicia Monson, ranked third in the nation, covered her move and the two separated from the rest of the field.
“I know my strength kind of lies in endurance and sometimes it’s not the best to remain in the pack for the whole race and leave it to a foot race in the last 400 meters,” Roberts said.
Roberts split 3:03 for the fifth kilometer, her fastest kilometer of the race by more than 10 seconds.
In the final kilometer of the race, Monson passed Roberts to win by nine seconds. Roberts finished with a personal best time of 19:58.4, breaking the twenty minute barrier for the first time.
Sarah Nicholson, the second ‘Cat to finish, ran a strong 21:05.8 for 35th place. Northwestern’s third finisher, Sielle Kearney, continued her strong freshman season with a 51st place finish and a time of 21:35.3. Isabel Seidel and Rachel McCardell rounded out the Northwestern scoring five that totalled 200 points.
The ‘Cats have two weeks until the NCAA Midwest Regional meet where they have the chance to qualify for nationals both individually and as a team.
“We’re always hunting to make it to NCAAs as a team,” said Roberts, who has qualified for the national meet twice as an individual. “It’s just a great experience to be able to toe the line with a team.”