Grinnell College’s Stephanie Rouse ’13 (pictured) capped a stellar season by running a personal-best time at the NCAA Division III National Cross Country Championships Saturday at Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne, Wis.
Rouse toured the 6-kilometer women’s course in 22:36.3, the fourth-best clocking in Grinnell history, en route to finishing 149th place in the 227-runner field.
The individual champ was Chiara Del Piccolo of Williams, who finished in 20:52.08. Washington University won the team competition.
“Steph ran a very smart race,” said Grinnell coach Evelyn Freeman. “She went out a bit faster than normal, but still in control. She was 212th after the first mile and then improved her standing as the race went on. That’s pretty much the way we planned her race.”
“I think it went well,” added Rouse. “It was a pretty overwhelming atmosphere with so many good runners all going out at the same speed. But I felt I ran a pretty controlled race early on and was able to pick off people after that.”
Rouse’s performance is even more amazing considering this is her first year of running collegiate cross country. “Early in the season, Ev and I had talked about nationals being a possibility,” Rouse said. “I still didn’t know how realistic it was as a goal, but it was always in the back of my mind.”
Rouse said the experience of being at nationals will help her in the future. “Having the opportunity to compete at nationals is exciting,” she explained. “It’s nice to get familiar with this type of atmosphere. I’m excited for track season and next cross country season.”