First-year University of Minnesota, Morris runner Linda Keller has advanced to the NCAA national cross-country meet by virtue of an eighth place finish in the regional meet held in Grinnell, Iowa.
Keller is the first UMM runner to qualify for the division III national cross-country meet. She and coach Jeremy Karger will travel to Highland Hills, Ohio this weekend for the race, hosted by Baldwin-Wallace College.
The track at Grinnell was dry and fast, a welcome change for the Cougars who ran their last three races of the season on muddy trails.
Keller jumped in with the lead pack early in the race and after the two-mile point she settled into a group of runners who would finish about 35 seconds off the lead.
Keller's time of 22:03 was a season-best for her, and she was the highest placing first-year in the field.
Before the race, Keller was concerned about the large crowds she expected to line the race course in Iowa.
"I was able to tune them out. It didn't really bother me as I expected," she said.
Heading into a national meet after a season of several first-place finishes, you might think a student-athlete would be bowled over by the circumstance. But the Paynesville native talked about the upcoming Ohio trip with her characteristic reserve.
"I haven't thought about it much, really. I've been sleeping in the van since we left Grinnell."
In the 25-team meet, the Cougar men finished 23rd and the women 21st.
8. Linda Keller - 22:03.0
144. Katie Schneiderman - 25:52.3
149. Gemma Miltich - 26:28.7
159. Cristina Montanez - 27:06.6
162. Emily Lawrence - 27:24.8
167. Kate Campbell - 27:58.9
168. Debbie Schneiderman - 28:23.6
Total Time = 2:08:55.2 Total Places = 622
105. Luke Toso - 27:30.1
139. Ian Philbrick - 28:36.2
145. Matt Ellison - 29:03.7
151. Greg Schumacher - 29:29.7
152. Nick Fox - 29:30.3
156. Andrew Birnstengel - 29:51.6
Total Time = 2:24:09.8 Total Places = 692