Wilfert Looks to Improve Upon Last Year’s Solid Finish at NCAA Championship Race
MEDFORD -- Not knowing what to expect at the NCAA Division III Women's Cross Country Championship Race last November, Amy Wilfert (Westborough, MA) of the Tufts University team held her own quite well. She was 48th overall with a time of 22:01 flat, barely 15 seconds from an All-American finish.
Wilfert, now a junior, will return to the NCAA Championship Race this Saturday (Nov. 21) when she represents Tufts in the 2009 edition at the Highland Hills Golf Course in Cleveland, Ohio. Possessing first-hand knowledge of what it takes to succeed at an event of this magnitude, she's hoping to contend for an All-American spot (top 35).
"Having been to Nationals before should help to reduce some of the nervousness and anxiety that comes with something so different from what you are used to," she said. "It's also helpful to know how the race is run and to have something to improve off of from last year."
A seventh-place finish at the 2009 NCAA Division III New England Regional Qualifier held at Twin Brooks Recreation Center last Saturday afternoon (Nov. 14) earned Wilfert the return trip to Nationals. Under rainy skies, she ran a time of 22:05.2 over the 6,000-meter regional course.
In addition to running at Nationals last fall, Wilfert has experienced success under pressure in other ways as a Tufts runner. She won an indoor track national championship as a sophomore with the distance medley relay last March in Terre Haute, Indiana. The Tufts foursome entered the race as the top seed and followed through on their potential. Wilfert was also thrust into the leadership role for the Tufts cross country team this fall when junior Stephanie McNamara (North Attleborough, MA) - who was 11th at last year's NCAA Cross Country Championship - had surgery and missed the entire season. Wilfert won two races for Tufts and was third at the New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship.
With everything considered, she is ready to give it her best shot on Saturday.
"I feel like I'm in a pretty good place going into the race this weekend," she said. "My legs feel really fresh, and I'm really excited to end the season on a good note. I plan on trying to hold on to the lead pack for as long as I can. There will be several people I have raced with before, so I hope to be able to stick with them."