At the Mid-American Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday afternoon, freshman Kelsey Hildreth and senior Meghan Heuer became the first Northern Illinois University women’s cross country runners in school history to earn All-MAC honors.
Hildreth (Byron, Ill./Byron) broke her own NIU school record in the 6K with a time of 20:33, good enough for an NIU record fifth-place finish overall and more than 22 seconds better than her previous best set at the Bradley Classic two weeks ago.
Coincidentally, Heuer (St. Charles, Ill./Kansas State) also broke her personal-best time in the 6K by 22 seconds, completing the race in 21:09 for an 11th-place finish at the MAC Championships.
NIU head coach Greg Hipp was proud of the two history-making Huskies, explaining that earning a place on the All-MAC team was the goal Hildreth and Heuer had set back in the summer.
“Kelsey and Meghan were really impressive. They both had a plan today and stuck to it in the race,” Hipp said. “They had two incredible races, and it’s exciting for our program to have two All-MAC finishers. They both set the goal of making All-MAC before the season, and today they followed through with it.”
Hildreth ran with the leaders throughout the race and finished just 12 seconds behind winner Victoria Voronko from Eastern Michigan.
“I felt really good during the race,” the fantastic freshman said. “The top five were really close for most of the race and it felt good to be at the front.”
Heuer expressed her pride at joining Hildreth as the first All-MAC Huskies in school history, and she is already looking forward to the NCAA Midwest Regional race in two weeks.
“It was a very nice course to run, so that definitely helped,” the senior stated. “It’s definitely a great feeling to be NIU’s first All-MAC finisher along with Kelsey, who raced incredible as a freshman today. Hopefully we’ll all keep moving forward and continue to show improvement at Regionals.”
As a team, NIU finished in ninth place thanks to the finishes of junior Ali Olson (New Auburn, Wis./Bloomer) and freshmen Taylor Perkins (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville North) and Lorena Martin (Salamanca, Spain/IFS Fray Luis de Leon).
Olson (57th, 22:42), Perkins (68th, 23:06) and Martin (71st, 23:16) rounded out the top five finishes to complete NIU’s team score and helped the Huskies earn their best team finish at the MAC Championships since 2009.
Toledo emerged victorious in the team title at the MAC Women’s Cross Country Championships for the fourth time in five years.