GREENSBORO -- Kristin Rush feels like herself again. The same self that
takes second place at the MEAC Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships as
a freshman in 2009. Two years of shin splints prevents her from improving upon
her freshman outing by claiming the individual MEAC title.
But on Thursday afternoon at North Carolina A&T's
Irwin Belk Track, she looks like a woman who is calm, confident and ready to
reclaim her position at the top of the MEAC results sheet. As beads of sweat roll
off her face, the A&T senior runner stretches every muscle to prepare for
the MEAC Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships in Princess Anne, Md.,
Saturday, October 27.
After a 15th
place and 23rd place finish as a sophomore and junior, Rush is
completely healthy as she prepares to exceed her own personal best of 18:34 in
her final cross country meet.
"I don't have any worries, I
feel no pressure, I'm just ready to go out and perform how I've been practicing.
My personal goal is to place in the top three", Rush said.
Rush is coming off a
record-breaking performance at the Christopher Newport Invitational. She ran
the 6k event in a school record time 23:54.70 to finish 11th. Her
Christopher Newport performance is indicative of how well her senior season has
"I feel pretty good about
it," said Rush, who has a 3.2 grade point average and plans to attend graduate
school after graduation. "I think competition had a lot to do with it. The MEAC
did get a lot stronger in distance and middle distance. But health did play a
role. This year I'm completely healthy. Nothing is wrong, so I'm ready to go."
Related Link: Five Cross Country Runners Earn Academic Honors
Rush said having cross
country coach Joel Pearson on staff should also play a role this weekend.
Pearson has extensive experience as a distance coach and therefore he takes the
runners through the proper techniques to prepare for races. Those techniques
helped Rush finish fourth at the 5k Great American Cross Country Festival (HBCU
Division) in 19:23. A week later she ran the 5k Hagan Stone Invitational in
"Confidence can make or
break you," said Duane Ross, A&T's director of track and field programs.
"Kristin is running with all the confidence in the world right now. She is
coming off of breaking that record, so you can see it how she conducts herself
- she's confident. She's ready to compete."
Rush's Great American Cross
Country time is the sixth best in the conference this season. Freshman and
teammate Janay Ferrell has the 15th best time in the conference,
19:47.40 at the Great American Cross Country Festival. The goal for the A&T
women is to finish fourth or better, which will be one of their best finishes
in school history.
The men are led by
sophomores Saeed Jones and Christian Harrison. Jones has the 15th
best time in the conference. He ran a 26:36.85 at Hagan Stone Invitational.
"We need to go and compete,"
said Ross. "We know Norfolk State and Hampton are the top competition on both
sides. We are not quite where they are as a program because we're just getting
started. But we need to make sure no one else gets ahead of us to push us back