Nov. 9, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For the second year in a row, Agnes Kemboi has qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The senior was the highest placed individual on a non-qualifying team Friday afternoon at Agri Park, finishing fifth in 21:07.0. The TCU women’s squad placed sixth with 189 team points.
“She ran really tough,” cross country head coach Liz Wort said. “The last time we were at this course Agnes struggled, so that had to be a little intimidating. She is a great racer. When the gun goes off, she is running hard from the start. We are definitely excited about how she raced with the leaders today.”
Kemoi knew that the path to the NCAA Championships would be at the front of the field. She got to the front of the field early and ran with the lead pack for the entire race. Kemboi was third at the halfway mark, only trailing a duo from Texas that would go on to take first and second.
She was passed by a couple of hard-charging runners from Arkansas near the end, but the job was done and Kemboi’s ticket to Louisville next Saturday was punched. The Horned Frogs staff thinks Kemboi can continue to produce at the final race.
“We have talked about being an All-American,” Wort noted. “She was running with a few girls who have earned the honors in past seasons so she definitely has a shot. However, there are eight other regions with great teams and individuals with the same goals. She has good prospective and experience from being there last year, and she will have to execute a good race.”
The performances of the rest of the TCU squad is a beacon of promise for the future. Laura Orlie wrapped up an outstanding freshman campaign with a 35th-place finish in 22:14.6. Fellow freshman Ashley Eckhoff followed in 45th in 22:28.3 and another freshman, Maggie Escobar, took 52nd in 22:45.5.
“I am so proud of our freshmen,” Wort stated. “They have all had their adversity throughout the season, but have grown as a group. This was a great learning experience for them. In future years, we will be coming to regionals with more intent on qualifying for the NCAA Championships as a team so it is nice for them to be able to go out and get that experience. They embrace the ideals of the program.”
Senior Katie Dalton closed out the scoring team with a 58th place finish in 22:56.0. Though finishing in 83rd, freshman Genna McCarthy had one of the top times of her young TCU career with a 23:34.4.
“Almost all of our runners were better than or around their PRs,” Wort noted. “It was really windy today so it was a factor for the runners. I was happy with the pack mentality our team had during the race.”
The Horned Frogs missed out on fifth place UTSA by two points and fourth place SMU by 11 points. TCU was hampered by the absence of senior Tricia Terry due to illness, but Wort credits her team for still producing through the adversity.
“Tricia came down with a fever and couldn’t run,” Wort said. “She felt awful, and I think that helped motivate our team to really perform today.”
Kemboi runs in the NCAA Cross Country Championships Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky.