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To qualify runner for outdoor track NCAA Regionals, Northwestern has work to do

To qualify runner for outdoor track NCAA Regionals, Northwestern has work to do
(Source: Northwestern Athletics)

Northwestern’s cross country team is now roughly a month away from the end of its second outdoor track season since gaining NCAA sponsorship for track — a move that opened up huge new opportunities for the team. The track seasons in the winter and spring were once merely a chance for the Wildcats to stay sharp in the offseason, but NCAA sponsorship allowed the team to travel to run in high-profile meets and turned track into a main event after fall’s cross country season ended.

The sponsorship also allowed NU runners to qualify for the NCAA Championships at the end of the season. Last year, then-sophomore Andrea Ostenso qualified to run the 10,000m in the NCAA West Preliminary Championships after achieving a season-best of 34 minutes and 46 seconds during the outdoor season.

But this season, the now-junior Ostenso and fellow junior Jena Pianin, NU’s top two runners from last year, have battled injuries, jeopardizing the chances of sending a runner to the NCAA Regionals in coach ‘A Havahla Haynes’ first season at the helm of the team. And with the outdoor track schedule nearing its end, the Cats have a lot of work to do if they want to change that.

NU’s best hope for a regional qualifier is senior Elena Barham, who currently owns the 59th-best season-best in the 10,000m in the West region at 35 minutes and 52 seconds. While only the runners with the top 48 times in each event from a region receive an initial invitation to the NCAA Regionals, runners who qualify in multiple events often choose to focus on one event, opening spots for other runners. For example, Ostenso received her invitation last year after posting the 52nd-best 10,000m time in the West region.

But even with the potential of moving forward as runners turn down invitations, Barham might still be too far back to qualify. Last year’s final qualifier for the West Regional’s 10,000m race was Colorado State’s Rachael Rudel, who owned the 55th-best time in the region.

And historically, Barham’s time in the 10,000m would not put her near qualification for the NCAA Regionals. Her current time would have been the 87th-best in the West last year and the 88th-best in 2014. As the season comes to a close, it is likely that Barham’s current season-best time will fall back in the pack.

Ostenso is a dark horse to make a run for NCAA Regionals qualification, as she nearly broke 17 minutes in a 5,000m race this weekend and has personal-bests in both the 5,000m and 10,000m that would have given her a good chance to qualify this season. But after missing the entirety of fall’s cross country season with injury and with not much time left to get back to the heights of last year, the task might be too much to ask of her.

It seems that if Barham, Ostenso, or any other NU runner wants to make the NCAA West Regionals, they will need to improve their times before the end of the season. But with only two meets left on the schedule, it might be too late to stretch the Cats’ regional-qualifier streak to two years.

Morning Roundup: April 26, 2016

by Max Gelman 0 Comments

Not much news to report with every team off Monday, but we continued with our recaps from over the weekend. What you need to know…

And here is Tuesday’s back page:

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Morning Roundup: April 25, 2016

by Max Gelman 0 Comments
Morning Roundup: April 25, 2016
(Source: NU Athletics)

This past weekend was one of extreme highs and lows for Northwestern. The women’s golf team won its second-straight Big Ten Championship, men’s tennis set a new program record with 24 wins and softball earned a much-needed sweep. On the flipside, the lacrosse team dropped an important match to Penn State, putting a potential NCAA Tournament berth at risk, and baseball continued its Big Ten woes at home. What you need to know…

  • Joe Wilkinson recaps what might be Northwestern’s next dynasty in the women’s golf team.
  • Garrett Jochnau discusses a mixed bag of emotions for men’s tennis despite setting a new program record.
  • Claire Hansen writes about the lacrosse team’s danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003.
  • Mike Marut illustrates an emotional weekend for women’s tennis.
  • Max Schuman explores the upcoming men’s basketball season, specifically regarding NU’s non-conference schedule.
  • Bites from the weekend: Letourneau joins “Roof Club”, Football players sing national anthem.

Here’s a look at Monday’s front page, featuring the women’s golf team, and back page:

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Men’s tennis sets new program record with 24 wins

The match came down to the wire, but Northwestern defeated Penn State 4-2 this afternoon for its 24th win of the season, setting a new program record. Junior Strong Kirchheimer clinched in the third set of his match at No. 3 singles, defeating Matt Barry 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. The Wildcats finish the regular season at 24-3 with a Big Ten record of 10-1.

Going into next week’s Big Ten Tournament, the Wildcats will have the No. 2 seed.

WATCH: Amy Letourneau joins ‘Roof Club’

On Friday, senior Amy Letourneau joined the esteemed “Roof Club” against Michigan State. Her 3-run home run landed on the roof of McGaw Hall beyond the left field fence and was the 10th Northwestern bomb ever to reach the roof. Letourneau became the seventh Wildcat in school history to hit a roof shot and first since Olivia Duehr last season.

NU won the game 8-0 in five innings, run-ruling the Spartans.

Morning Roundup: April 22, 2016

by Max Gelman 0 Comments
Morning Roundup: April 22, 2016
(Daily file photo by Daniel Tian)

It’s been a season to remember thus far for Northwestern’s men’s tennis squad. With a 23-2 record, tied for their winningest season ever, the Wildcats are poised to make history with a win this weekend over either Ohio State or Penn State. Additionally, with every spring sport playing, this weekend is full of action.  Below is a roundup of what you need to know…

  • In case you missed it, Maggie Lyon signed with Chicago’s WNBA team last night.
  • Benjy Apelbaum previews a potentially historic weekend for men’s tennis.
  • Dan Waldman writes about lacrosse’s quest for vengeance.
  • Max Gelman discusses how pitching will be extra-important for the baseball team.
  • Cole Paxton describes a softball team that’s feeling a bit of pressure.
  • Khadrice Rollins opined about why it’s important to appreciate Northwestern sports.
  • More weekend previews: Women’s Tennis, Men’s Golf, Women’s Golf, Cross Country

And here’s a look at Friday’s back page:

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Lacrosse Roundtable: Writers discuss Northwestern’s postseason chances

Lacrosse Roundtable: Writers discuss Northwestern’s postseason chances
(Daily file photo by Maddy Fisher)

As the regular season heads into the final stretch, Northwestern finds itself at 7-7 with two regular season games remaining. The Daily’s lacrosse reporters convened to discuss the team as it prepares for the postseason and looks to win its 8th NCAA Tournament since 2005. This story was originally published on April 20, 2016.

1. What needs to be the team’s main focus heading into postseason play?

Dan Waldman: If this team wants to a make a run in the postseason, then its defense has to improve. In the Cats’ 14-11 loss to USC last week, the Trojans scored 11 of their 14 goals off of assists, and a majority came from dumping the ball to an open shooter right on top of the crease. NU’s defense struggled to rotate to open attackers, especially in transition. The Cats’ slow rotations have been a recurring problem throughout the season, and NU needs to shore up its defensive slides to eliminate goals coming from one-on-one opportunities with the goalie.The team can improve on this by either winning even more draw controls or limiting turnovers that result in fastbreaks.

Claire Hansen: You’ll hear Kelly Amonte Hiller and the players say it all the time: They just need to play their game. There’s no question that the Cats have some of the best talent in the country. Their major losses this year have come from a kind of sloppiness that is uncharacteristic of NU. If the Cats can tighten up their fundamentals — limiting turnovers, sharpening their passes, taking care of the ball — they’re going to have no problem finding success in both the Big Ten and, if they make it, the NCAA.

To find out what else our writers had to say, click here for the full analysis. 

Maggie Lyon signs with WNBA’s Chicago Sky

Northwestern’s all-time leading 3-point shooter has found a home with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. Lyon went unselected in last week’s WNBA Draft, even though the Sky had one of the last overall picks in the draft (34th out of 36). Instead, Chicago decided to take a flier on the New Trier graduate as a free agent.