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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's cross country team is headed to Terre Haute, IN for the 2016 Division I Cross Country Championships, being held this Saturday, Nov. 19th.
After taking first at the Mid-Atlantic Regional at their home course last Friday, the Nittany Lions are ready to take on national competition.
"After winning regionals, I think the momentum shifted significantly. After getting 2nd at Big Tens, we were extremely upset so the negative momentum from Big Tens made us angry and that pushed us to fight at regionals," said redshirt sophomore Greta Lindsley. "So for nationals, I think coming in with a win beforehand, it's a much healthier approach and it'll be fueled straight from confidence instead of wanting redemption."
"Winning the regional meet did give us confidence moving forward and I think we will use that confidence going into the NCAA meet. We are all ready and doing well at nationals would be a great way to end the season," said freshman Kathryn Munks. "There are many talented teams at the NCAA Championship and it would be awesome to show them what Penn State's made of."
The women's team is currently ranked 8th in the nation according to latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) poll. The team has performed well all throughout the season and are hoping to continue this at the upcoming championships.
"Our team has had a steady progression this season, with regionals being our best team performance yet," said junior Elizabeth Chikotas. "We are excited to see how we can do against national competition and improve upon our 16th place finish last year.
Going into nationals last year, the women's team was ranked 10th in the nation. They ended up getting 16th overall and are hoping to improve and place even higher this year.
"Last year we came in ranked 10th," said Lindsley. "This year, I think since we've had a year to mature and grow, we aren't going to be happy just to be there, we want to execute and show how good of a team we are. If we can all click on Saturday together, it could be a really awesome day."
"We all want to place higher, I think we can definitely shoot for top 10 if everyone continues to run consistently, maybe we are capable of a higher place finish. Penn State's best team showing was 6th back in 1982, it would be awesome to top that and make 2016 a year for the record books," said Chikotas. "Either way, I am confident in myself and my teammates based on our work ethic and ability to race hard and compete."
For some of the women's team, this will be their first national level competition. That group includes Munks, who has consistently run in the top 5 runners on the team, is feeling confident going into this Saturday.
"I'm feeling excited about going to my first NCAA meet, I've put in a lot of work starting in the summer and throughout the whole season. It's very rewarding being able to go to a national meet and to show myself, the coaches, and the rest of the NCAA what I can do," said Munks. "Also I feel that we have a strong team and are ready to do well and have fun at nationals."
The women's race is set to 11 a.m. ET at Indiana State's LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, IN.