October 3, 2002
Bloomington, IN - With a fifth place finish at last week's 22-team Roy Griak Invitational at Minnesota, the No. 27 Indiana women's cross country team made its debut in the FinishLynx NCAA Women's Cross Country Poll. Hard work has paid off for the Hoosiers, who are nationally-ranked for the first time in 13 years. However, their reward extends beyond any national weekly recognition.
"Do they want to be at Indiana State on Nov 25th (for the NCAA Championship), and are they willing to bleed for it?" head coach Judy Wilson responded when asked about her team's questions heading into the next two months of the season, which begin Oct. 4 at 4:15 p.m. at the Notre Dame Invitational. This is a 20-team event that features No. 2 Stanford as well as the host No. 3 Fighting Irish. "It will take us getting around teams like Wisconsin, Marquette, and Toledo. I think Minnesota proved to them that they have what it takes to get there."
What makes Indiana's performance at the Roy Griak Invitational all the more impressive is that Wilson does not feel that it was her team's best effort of the season.
"The biggest key is staying healthy. We have quite a gap between our fifth and sixth runners, and people have to be ready to step up if someone goes down," Wilson said. "Another key thing is getting people to race more aggressively. We were a little behind where we really needed to be at Minnesota. The teams that beat us at Minnesota all had people who had been at NCAA's once or twice. It makes a difference. But out of all those teams, we will learn the most and see the biggest improvement in the next 4-6 weeks."
The leadership and experience of juniors Becky Obrecht and Audrey Giesler is intrumental to the team's development. Each turned in a career-best 6K performance in Minneapolis. Giesler was second for the team and 15th overall at 21:36.7, while Obrecht was fourth and 36th at 22:03.
"Audrey handles five and six mile runs better than she ever has before. I felt that she always had the strength and speed for national level running, but not the stamina," Wilson said. "Now, she has developed all three. Her attention to detail, work ethic, and drive have put her into a position where she can be a national caliber runner.
"Becky has put in some very good workouts and the big difference for her this year is that Mindy (Peterson, IU's top runner) and Audrey are in so much better shape than they were last year," Wilson continued. "Sometimes, I have to slow things down because they might be overrunning part of the workout. Becky really pushes herself hard, but then she needs more time to recover."