The women’s cross country team might not attend the NCAA Championships, but it will send a representative on its behalf.
Junior Samantha Ginther was selected as an individual qualifier for Monday’s national meet after finishing 14th in Saturday’s 6K NCAA Regional with a time of 20:58.3.
The NCAA chooses the top four individual runners from each region whose teams did not reach the championship race.
In the Great Lakes Region, Michigan and Michigan St. grabbed the automatic qualifying bids, while Notre Dame, Toledo and Wisconsin received at-large bids.
Ginther was awarded the second individual qualifying spot, which helps her and her teammates, IU Coach Ron Helmer said.
“The fact that she ran well enough to put herself in that position validates the work she has been doing,” he said. “For those people that have been a little bit frustrated with their racing and didn’t get that reward at the end, they can still see that they’re very close to being in a national meet.
“To have that many more people who can work with her every day and are very much at her level, it should give everybody confidence that they’re doing what they need to do.”
Ginther admitted to being excited upon hearing the official announcement, though she had already been prepared for it.
“I’d been told beforehand that I had a pretty good chance of getting in, so I wasn’t super surprised,” she said. “But I was really happy making it.”
Regardless of whether or not she can run for an All-America spot in the present, Helmer said he expects Ginther’s participation in the NCAA Championships to be of even greater benefit in the future.
“Experience at that level counts a whole lot,” he said. “Once you’ve been there, it’s easier to feel like you belong there the next time, and just seeing what people do to be successful in that environment is a great learning opportunity, as well.”
Though Ginther would rather be running with the rest of her teammates, she said she realizes she will be there as the lone representative to show what the Hoosier women are capable of doing.
“Our team as a whole is a better representation, and I wish they could be there with me,” Ginther said. “I just need to relax, keep doing what I’ve been doing all season and not treat it any differently than any other meet.”