Amanda Mergaert finished 84th at NCAA Championships.
Nov. 21, 2011
Terre Haute, Ind. - In her second consecutive appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, Utah junior Amanda Mergaert marked the end of the 2011 season with an 84th-place finish. Mergaert is the first Utah cross country athlete to compete at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in back-to-back seasons in over 15 years.
"I am really proud of Amanda, she ran her guts out today," Utah head coach Kyle Kepler said. "She ran courageously and put herself in a good position early, but just couldn't hold during the back half of the race. She gave a super effort, but it just wasn't meant to be today."
In the six-kilometer race at the LaVerne Gibson Cross Country Course, Mergaert clocked a time of 20:53.6, which beat her qualifying performance at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships by more than 20 seconds. Mergaert becomes the first Utah cross country athlete in over a decade to race at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in consecutive seasons.
Despite wet conditions, Mergaert fired out of the gates and kept with a very fast paced lead group. Mergaert stayed with that group through the first three-kilometers of the race. On the second half of the race, Mergaert was unable to sustain the very quick pace set by the lead group of runners and finished 84th.
In 2010, Mergaert finished 45th with a time of 20:56.5. This season, the runners were much quicker and Mergaert's faster time of 20:53.6 earned 84th place.
The overall individual winner of the race was Villanova's Sheila Reid with a time of 19:41.2.
This season, Mergaert finished in the top 10 of every race she competed in leading up to the NCAA Championships, including a school-record-setting six-kilometer pace in a time of 20:19.5 at the Chile Pepper Invitational. At the NCAA Mountain Region Championships, Mergaert was the ninth-place finisher, which qualified her for the NCAA Championships.
"Amanda had one of the best seasons in the history of our school," Kepler stated. "To finish in the top-10 of our region alone is a great honor. There is no doubt that she is one of the best runners in the country."