After three years of failing to qualify for the NCAA Division 1 Championships, the North Carolina women’s cross country team finished 14th in front of more than 5,000 spectators on Monday in Terre Haute, Ind., earning its highest national finish since taking 10th in 2004.
On a day with head-on sprints into winds reaching as high as 30 mph, the 6k course was putting the teams to the test. The women ran the course at an average pace of 20 seconds slower per mile than last year.
Junior Kendra Schaaf, the only North Carolina runner with national experience under her belt, led the Tar Heels by finishing 11th out of 253 with a time of 20:26.7 — less than 20 seconds behind first-place finisher Sheila Reid. Reid, a redshirt junior from Villanova, led her team to a second-straight national title with her individual victory.
After dealing with an Achilles tendon injury, Schaaf failed to meet her goal of obtaining a medal in this year’s championships.
“I’m not too pleased with my finish,” Schaaf said. “I came in looking to do better than I did, especially with a second-place finish last year, but all things considered, it wasn’t terrible.”