Terre Haute, IN - Georgia junior Kristie Krueger became just the third cross country All-American in Lady Bulldog history at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday.
In what she described as the “windiest day she has ever run a race,” Krueger was the top finisher from the Southeastern Conference after taking 28th with a 6k time of 20:40.6. The Argyle, Texas, native was 164th during her first trip to the national cross country meet as a sophomore in 2009.
Only Natalie Picchetti (27th in 2007) and Keli Butler (11th in 1990) had earned All-America honors for the Georgia women in the program’s history coming into Monday’s race.
Villanova junior Sheila Reid (20:06.9) won the individual competition to lead her team to its second straight NCAA title. In the men’s 10k, Liberty senior Samuel Chelanga clocked a 29:22.2 as Oklahoma State blistered Florida State 73-193 to claim the team crown.
“Kristie’s finish is a nice ending to a fantastic season,” said Bulldog distance coach Jeff Pigg, who watched as Krueger and the field battled gusts up to 30 miles per hour and unseasonably warm temperatures in the upper 60s. “It’s been fun to see her get better and better. When a runner who is primarily a miler steps up like this in cross country, you know it’s a special person that you are working with. This closes out the cross country season and now we can’t wait to get going with the track season.”
Krueger said she “couldn’t even run in a straight line during warm-ups” because of the wind, but the 2010 indoor All-American in the mile was able to stay with the front pack of 30 from start to finish.
“I didn’t have my best race of the year, but I’m pleased I was able to earn All-America honors,” said Krueger. “I am exhausted from this season and looking forward to a little rest. I wish I would have had a better finish in this meet, but overall I couldn’t have asked for a better season.”
Krueger’s 2010 campaign was a memorable one. She captured Georgia's first NCAA South Regional individual title after winning her 6k race with her first sub-20:00 time of her career in Hoover, Ala., on Nov. 13. She was later named the South Region Female Athlete of the Year.
She was also honored as the SEC Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year after becoming just the second SEC cross country champion in school history on Nov. 1 in Columbia, S.C.
In Krueger's five meets this season coming into the NCAA Championships, she finished in the top 10 in all of them and won three. After opening up the year with a victory at the Georgia Cross Country Invitational at her team's home course in Bishop, Krueger took ninth at the NCAA Pre-Nationals, which was run on the NCAA Championships course.
“We put a high priority on the SEC Championships from the team standpoint and she knew the pressure was on her for both that meet and the Regionals,” Pigg said. “It’s tough to hold that intensity for so long, it kind of zaps you. But she came (to Terre Haute) without her teammates and answered a very tall order. No matter what happens during a season, you are kind of left with the feeling that you had in your final meet and I would say this is a great way to conclude the year.”
ALL RESULTS FROM THE CHAMPIONSHIPS HAVE BEEN ATTACHED,