The Northern Illinois cross country team returns Friday, Sept. 7, to the NIU North 40 as they play host to the fifth annual NIU Open.
“The NIU Open has a real good field of teams,” said NIU head coach Greg Hipp. “It will be a little more competitive than it was a year ago. We’ve got Northwestern again, who is a program like us that’s improving pretty quickly. Then we’ve got DePaul and Marquette, two solid Big East programs that we are excited to have on our campus.”
The Huskies are aiming to replicate the success they had last weekend when they handily won the UIC Opener in Palos Heights, Ill.
Courtney Oldenburg won the women’s two mile race with a time of 11:24.90 to help Northern claim the top four spots. Ali Olson and Leah Raffety took second and third place, respectively, in their collegiate debuts, while Jamie Burr posted a strong showing with a fourth place finish.
As a team, the Huskies outscored the host Flames, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Chicago State and St. Xavier by an average of 29.8 points in the dual-scored meet. The squad defeated second-place UIC by 22 points and topped CSU by 35.
“I think what last week did was give them some confidence and prove to them the improvements we’ve been talking about are truly possible,” Hipp said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. I think the girls competed pretty well overall and we just need to continue with that in the next few meets.”
The Cardinal & Black, however, will face a tough test on their home course. The meet will feature its strongest field in years, as emerging Big Ten power Northwestern and Big East contenders DePaul and Marquette highlight the six-team field. Local rivals UIC and Chicago State round out the field.
“Northwestern’s going to be a pretty big challenge for us,” Hipp said. “They’ve got some depth that we need to develop ourselves to go up against them head-to-head on paper. I think Marquette is a really similar program. They’ve got some strong girls, but I think if we have a really good meet, we are going to have a shot to take them down.”
Admission and parking are free for the meet.
For more information on NIU cross country and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.