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Go Utes!
Senior Amanda Mergaert Heads to Louisville for NCAA Cross Country Championships

Amanda Mergaert will compete in her final collegiate cross country race on Saturday.

Amanda Mergaert will compete in her final collegiate cross country race on Saturday.

Nov. 13, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY- Amanda Mergaert will cap off an impressive senior season and her collegiate cross country collegiate career on Saturday at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Mergaert, a three-time qualifier for the event, will compete in her final race beginning at 12 p.m. ET at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.

“Amanda is trying to become our program’s first cross country All-American in 25 years (Celsa Bowman, 1987),”Utah head coach Kyle Kepler said. “As a sophomore she finished 45th and only two seconds from that goal.  Last year, she finished 84th, but was not a 100% physically.  Based on the results I could find, she is the first three- time qualifier in Utah history.  Those numbers speak volumes about her cross country success.  Amanda will forever be remembered as one of the best cross country runners in Utah history as well as one of the best runners I’ve had the privilege of coaching.” 

“I am really proud of the way she has grown as a person and a leader in our program,” Kepler continued. “Her teammates look up to her and really respect her.  She enjoys being a leader and helping them improve on a daily basis.  The way she handles her training and balances it with the rest of the runners on the team and what they need to do is not always easy.”   

Mergaert is a three-time (four including track) NCAA qualifier who will wrap up an impressive cross country career at the University of Utah on Saturday. Mergaert has been the Utes’ top finisher in every meet that she has competed in the previous three seasons, including All-Pac-12 honors two years in a row. 

With one race remaining, Mergaert has sights set on earning All-American honors for the first time in her career. However, standing in the way is a very competitive field featuring the best collegiate runners in the country. Coming off a fourth-place performance at the NCAA Mountain Regional and sixth place at the Pac-12 Championships, Mergaert is prepared for the task at hand on Saturday. 



“The NCAA meet is the best of the best,” Kepler said. “Although, I believe between Pre-Nationals, Pac-12’s and the regional meet, Amanda knows she is among the best runners in the country.  She simply needs to run her race, run with confidence, and focus on the process of competing for the entire six-kilometer distance.  If she does that, then I believe she will achieve the goals she has set for herself.”

The course will provide several challenges for the athletes, however Mergaert has already run on the terrain once this season when the Utes competed in the Pre-Nationals meet hosted by Louisville back in October. 

“This course is much different from the course at Indiana State (previous two NCAA meets).  After the first 400 meters the runners are pretty much away from their coaches and spectators until about 2.5-kilometers into the race,” Kepler said. “The experience of previous NCAA meets will be a big benefit.  She will have to trust her instincts about her pacing and energy levels for about seven minutes early in the race before she will get any help from me or the energy of the crowd.  The same is true for the final two kilometers, as the course moves to the other end of the park.  Until about the last 300-400 meters the runners will be away from the energy of the crowd and most coaches won’t be able to get out to that part of the course and make it back for the finish.”

“This course doesn’t have any huge hills, but does have a couple of tight rhythm buster turns on it,” Kepler continued. “It will be important to run good tangents at those turns.  She had a good run at Pre-Nationals on this course and really enjoyed the terrain. She is excited to get back and run on it again as the final race of her college career.” 

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