Freshmen making presence known on women’s cross country team

By Katie Leb

Assistant coach Mark McConeghey knew nothing about the incoming freshmen runners on this year’s NIU women’s cross country team. When he took a time trial of the runners, he quickly became aware of their capabilities.

“When they first came in I had no expectations because I didn’t know anything about them,” McConeghey said of the new class. “But [after] a time trial there’s five out of the six that finished in our top seven. So I was very impressed.”

The success of the freshmen means more competition within the team, which will be a positive addition, said sophomore Courtney Oldenburg.

“This year we have a lot bigger team so there’s going to be a lot more competition within us,” Oldenburg said. “That will be better at meets. Hopefully a lot of the freshmen step it up and we should be in pretty good shape.”

Oldenburg knows the pressure of being a successful freshman. Last year, she consistently ran well, finishing first for the team in several races, McConeghey said.

“I think she learned a lot her first year and did very well,” McConeghey said. “I think she is going to do even better than she did last year. She runs to win, kind of has a warrior attitude that spreads throughout the team.”

For now, McConeghey is looking for the seniors to fill the leadership role.

“I think that experience will probably be the leaders on the team,” he said of the four returning seniors. “Freshmen are young [and] still don’t know what’s going on.”

However, the Huskies will be missing their number two runner Nancy Nieto, who has left the university due to eligibility reasons for her program of study.

“We’d have been a lot better with her,” McConeghey said of Nieto. “But I think we’ve got some kids who have come in and will be able to step in and fill that void.”