Ashley Tutt and the cross country team carry the torch for NIU athletics this season

By James Krause

DeKALB — While some teams in NIU Athletics have struggled to find consistency, the cross country team has emerged as the strongest team of this fall season.

The Huskies finished two-points shy of tying Eastern Michigan University for the Mid-American Conference championship over the weekend.

Even in defeat, the Huskies shined with the fourth-overall win for junior Ashley Tutt. Tutt’s win is the first individual title in NIU cross country history.

Head Coach Adrian Myers praised Tutt after she came away with the win Saturday at the MAC Championships in DeKalb with a time of 21:18.

“She is a special kid,” Myers said in an NIU Athletics press release Saturday. “She wanted to make it an uncomfortable, tough race. She got just that and in that environment she always thrives. She woke up this morning knowing that she was going to win a MAC title.”

Tutt was named to the All-MAC First Team along with junior Mackenzie Callahan, who finished third on Saturday. Senior Ericka Hibser was named to the All-MAC Second Team with a 13th place finish.

The cross country team won its first three competitions of the year, all featuring individual wins by Tutt.

NIU won its opening race in the Western Illinois University Early Bird competition in Aug. 30, 2018, then won both of its September competitions at the NIU Huskies Challenge and the Loyola University – Chicago Lakefront Invitational.

The Huskies picked up a great finish at the MAC Championships even after a sluggish month of October. The Huskies best finishes in October were 40th in the Bradley Pink Classic and 17th in the Under Armour Pre-Nationals. The races were on back-to-back days, making the Huskies send a different squad for each race.

With a week to prepare, the team will head to the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma on Nov. 15.