Facing some of the nation’s toughest competitors at Saturday’s 25th Annual Roy Griak Invitational, the Northern Illinois women’s cross country team continued to show strong improvements as the Huskies raced against nine nationally ranked teams.
Sophomore Courtney Oldenburg led the Huskies at the invitational when knocked 40 seconds off her 2009 finish to place first for NIU.
Oldenburg set the pace for NIU, when she finished first for the Huskies for the third-consecutive competition. Running a six-kilometer time of 22:48.6, Oldenburg finished 98th of 300 competitors to improve upon her time of 23:32 at the 2009 competition. Freshman Lindsay DeReadt claimed the Huskies second-place spot when she raced to a time of 24:44.3.
“Courtney ran about 40 seconds faster than last year, which was a great improvement,” McConeghey said. “We have to work on closing the gap between the number one and two runners. We’ll keep working in practice, and the gaps will close. As we get in better shape, the girls will continue to improve.”
Nora Ferguson, Sunsea Shaw and Claire McAuley rounded out the top-three performers for the Huskies. Ferguson clocked in with a time of 25:04.9, while Shaw finished in a time of 25:22.2 to finish fourth for NIU. McAuley saw the Huskies fifth-place finish when she raced to a time of 25:27.5.
Northern Illinois finished 28th overall at the Roy Griak Invitational, while Arizona, New Mexico, and Iowa State were the top-three teams at the Invitational. North Carolina State’s Laura Hoer won the invitational, finishing the race in a time of 20:38.4.
“Everybody improved and ran better,” said Northern Illinois assistant coach Mark McConeghey. “I think we did well. This was a large race, with 300 runners, and I think in a smaller race the girls will do a lot better.”
NIU will return to action Friday, Oct. 1, when the Huskies travel to South Bend, Ind. to compete in the Notre Dame Invitational. Following next weekend’s competition, NIU will compete Saturday, Oct. 16, in the Tori Neubauer Invitational in West Salem, Wis., before heading Oct. 30 to the Mid-American Conference Championships.
For more information on NIU cross country and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.