Kelsey Hildreth finished in fourth place at the Bradley Classic on Friday afternoon, setting the Northern Illinois University women’s cross country 6K school record in the process.
Hildreth (Byron, Ill./Byron) concluded the race in 20:55.7, beating Courtney Oldenburg’s previous NIU-best time of 21:29.00 that had stood since 2012 by more than 34 seconds. The freshman, who ran Friday at an incredible 5:34 mile pace over the 6K/3.75-mile event, now owns both the 5K and 6K NIU school records.
NIU head coach Greg Hipp was thrilled to see Hildreth set the school record, especially in the manner she raced.
“Kelsey was really aggressive and went right to the front in the first kilometer,” Hipp said. “She raced with a pretty good group of girls in that lead pack and set the tone for us today.”
In what was the Huskies’ final preparation before the Mid-American Conference Championships, NIU finished 12th out of 32 teams at the Bradley Classic, beating DePaul, Nebraska, Dayton, Bradley, UIC and a host of other schools.
Senior Meghan Heuer (St. Charles, Ill./Kansas State) also finished in the top 20 individually of the event, placing 17th with a time of 21:40.3, the third best 6K time of her career.
With the top five individual finishing places counting for each team, freshman Lorena Martin (Salamanca, Spain/IFS Fray Luis de Leon), junior Ali Olson (New Auburn, Wis./Bloomer) and sophomore Carly Pederson (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) finished in 58th, 127th and 140th respectively to help NIU record a strong team result.
Hipp believes that depth will be the key for NIU to accomplishing its goals in the quickly approaching postseason races.
“Lorena really stepped up for us today, running below her goal time,” Hipp said. “We’re hoping to have everyone healthy for the MAC Championships to add to our depth and reach our potential of having a really strong top five.”
NIU will head Saturday, Nov. 1, to the MAC Championships at Central Michigan University. For more information on NIU cross country and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.