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    Season Preview: Likhite, Wildcats Begin 2010 at Badger Classic

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM After missing the 2009 season, Sophie Ewald expects to be near the front of the pack for NU in its season-opening meet at Wisconsin Friday.
    After missing the 2009 season, Sophie Ewald expects to be near the front of the pack for NU in its season-opening meet at Wisconsin Friday.

    Sept. 2, 2010

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Entering its seventh overall season under head coach April Likhite, Northwestern kicks off the 2010 season Friday at the Badger Cross Country Classic hosted by Wisconsin. NU and No. 26 Wisconsin are the lone Big Ten schools competing in the meet, which is slated to begin at 5 p.m. CT at UW's Zimmer Cross Country Course.

    A complete race recap with results will be available on following the event.

    Below is a 2010 season preview for the Wildcat cross country program:

    Since returning to Northwestern as the head cross country coach in 2007, April Likhite has made great strides in recruiting competitive student-athletes who are driven to see NU consistently run with the best in the Big Ten. As a result of those efforts, Likhite's 2010 squad can be considered her deepest and most talented team yet.

    Already under Likhite, Northwestern has established itself as the premier cross country-only program in the nation after becoming the only such team to place in the top-15 at its NCAA Regional meet in 2009. Being part of a cross country-only team while still committing oneself to year-round training and competition requires a special kind of student-athlete, and Likhite has managed to compile a roster full of runners who have what it takes.

    Perhaps most notable among them is a runner who missed all of 2009 with an injury, Sophie Ewald. Though just a freshman in 2008, the German national established herself as a leader on Northwestern as she placed first for the 'Cats in four of the six races in which she competed. She returns for the 2010 campaign in top form after an excellent spring track season during which she set personal bests in multiple distances.



    In Ewald's absence in 2009, one of her classmates ably stepped up to become a reliable top-2 finisher for the Wildcats week in and week out. Hallie Busta will try to maintain that consistency and improve her season-best times of 18:46 (5K) and 22:40 (6K) from a year ago. Busta has several classmates who have also proven to be able to push the Wildcat pack, including Rachel Kaminski, Rachel Edwards and Abby Tracy.

    Beneath the junior class is a large group of runners coming off stellar freshman campaigns in 2009. Leading the way in that contingent is Audrey Huth, who was Northwestern's top finisher in five straight races to end the season last year. Huth enjoyed an eventful offseason that included runs at the U.S. Cross Country Championships as well as the North American Canadian and Caribbean Championships where she placed 12th out of 25 runners. Huth, Allegra Mayer and Lauren Neuschel will all be looking to be at or near the front of the pack for NU during their sophomore seasons.

    For the third consecutive season, Likhite is welcoming a freshman class to campus that can contribute immediately. Highlighted by Nike Cross Country Nationals qualifier and 17th-place finisher Michelle Moriset, the class is replete with runners with impressive high school accolades who have aspirations of helping Northwestern reach the top of the conference.

    Northwestern's 2010 schedule is full of familiar courses for the Wildcats, including the Loyola Lakefront Invitational and the Bradley Classic, which has become a favorite course among NU runners and will once again serve as Northwestern's destination for the NCAA Regionals.

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