Grinnell College’s Stephanie Rouse ’13 is preparing to compete in the NCAA Division III National Women’s Cross Country Championships on Saturday.
The 6-kilometer race is slated for 11 a.m. at Lake Breeze Golf Course in Winneconne, Wis. The men’s 8-kilometer race will follow at noon.
A total of 560 runners from 134 different schools will participate in the event, which was last hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1999. Each race will field 32 teams of seven runners, along with 56 individuals who received at-large selections.
Rouse, competing in cross country at Grinnell for just the first season, finished 21st at last Saturday’s NCAA Central Region Meet with a clocking of 22:49.1. She is the first Pioneer woman to qualify for nationals since Sarah Spencer ’08 and Allison Louthan ’08 did so in 2007, and currently ranks fifth on the Pioneers’ all-time chart.
“It was an unexpected surprise when Stephanie decided to join cross country earlier this fall,” said Grinnell coach Evelyn Freeman. “Having had no experience running the 6K distance, she was unsure of her capabilities but I was confident in her potential for greatness. She had just come off a successful track season last spring, and although her training had been focused on the middle distance events we had an inkling that the longer distances might be her forte.
“She had also logged lots of miles last summer in preparation for the season,” Freeman added. “Each cross country race she learned about how to race and pace herself and it all came to fruition at the NCAA Regional qualifying meet. We put together a race plan which she carried out perfectly. That should give her great confidence going into the national championship meet this coming weekend.
“There are three other female runners representing the Midwest Conference and it will be interesting as they have the opportunity to challenge each other, as well,” Freeman concluded.