LOUISVILLE, Ky. — IU junior Katherine Receveur grew up on the cross-country course at Tom Sawyer National Park in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Louisville native lived just a few minutes from the park and would go there to train in the summers during high school.
It was also the same course she trained on when she came back home from Bloomington before her redshirt freshman season at IU. It was where her journey from a Miami University transfer to one of the most dominant runners in the Big Ten Conference began.
It culminated on the morning of Nov. 18. Tom Sawyer National Park was the location of the 2017 NCAA Cross-Country Championships. Receveur qualified for the finals after winning the Great Lakes Regional Championship last week, and the rest of the IU women's team joined her after qualifying as one of the last at-large bids.
Receveur followed up her 11th-place finish at last year's NCAA Championships with a 20th-place finish in Saturday's race.
The performance was good enough to garner her a second-straight All-American distinction.
She said the familiar course helped her get comfortable during the last stretch of the race.
“They’ve changed the course a little so it was a little different,” Receveur said. “I knew that last mile really well so I think that ultimately helped a lot.”
Even though she finished nine spots behind her finish from last year, Receveur still managed to run her best 6K time of the year — 19:56.42. It was also nearly 10 seconds faster than her time at Nationals last year (20:04), when the competition took place in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Coach Ron Helmer said her performance shouldn’t be downplayed just because of her finish in a tough field.
“I think she probably pressed a little early and tried to get herself in the position she thought she needed to be in," Helmer said. "She just never could get in a rhythm where she felt good. So, I thought she did an incredible job of holding her position. She just kept herself together and finished off a pretty awesome performance in a National championship.”
As for the IU team as a whole, the Hoosiers were able to get good times from everybody as they finished 24th overall. It was six spots better than their qualifying ranking.
After Receveur, junior Brenna Calder was second for IU in 117th place while junior Maggie Allen (137th), sophomore Grace Walther (203rd), junior Haley Harris (221st), sophomore Kelsey Harris (244th) and freshman Stacy Morozov (247th) rounded out the top seven.
Helmer said he thought it was a promising finish to what was an up and down season for his women’s team.
“We’re going to look at this as a really solid performance,” Helmer said. “If we can figure out how to manage ourselves a little better in big meets like this we’re going to get a lot better moving forward because I felt like we could have been as high as 18 or 20.”
In the men’s 10K, sophomore Ben Veatch was the only individual to represent IU after finishing fourth at the Regionals last week. He managed an 87th place finish with a time of 30:33.8. A fall near the beginning forced him to regain some ground and ultimately hurt his All-American chances.
Helmer said he thinks Veatch’s ceiling is still very high after what has been a very consistent sophomore season.
“He’s still very new to this,” Helmer said. “I really do think he had an All-American run today had he not have to put himself back into contention early in the race.”
In the end, Receveur was still the last one standing for IU as she stood at the podium during the awards ceremony announcing the top 25 finishers after the race. Awards and recognition have been a common theme for her this year during a dominant junior campaign in which she won both the Big Ten Championships and Regionals and broke the 6K IU cross-country course record twice.
Much like her career as a whole, Receveur said this was a season of fighting through any obstacle that came her way.
“I think I just kept rolling,” Receveur said. “Not all the races went as I would have hoped, but I just have to keep moving forward and not compare it to last year.”
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