On Saturday, WMC sophomore Abby VanderKooi competed in the Foot Locker Cross Country Midwest Regional meet in Kenosha, Wisc. There, she raced against some of the top athletes from 13 states. The top ten athletes per gender qualify for the Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego, Calif. on Dec. 14.
VanderKooi edged Ann Arbor's Zofia Dudek by three seconds, winning with a time of 17:17.8 ahead of Dudek's 17:20.5. The race turned into one Michigan state champion beating another, as Dudek won the Division 1 state final with Ann Arbor Pioneer and VanderKooi took the Division 4 crown last month. Dayton, Ohio's Taylor Ewert was next-best with a 17:24.9.
The race brought runners from as far away as Colorado and North Dakota to Wisconsin, and the sophomore beat all of them by averaging three 5:35 miles to win the meet.
"The goal was to just get a top-ten spot and move forward," WMC cross country coach Kevin Aardema said. "Abby was able to preview the course on Friday, which had been modified versus last year due to the early winter weather leaving sections of the usual course basically unusable. Abby liked some of the changes and was able to formulate a race plan based on what she had seen."
After Dudek and VanderKooi created a small gap about 300 meters from the finish, the WMC sophomore was able to sprint for the win in the last tenth of a mile to win the race.
VanderKooi will travel to San Diego in two weeks to prepare for nationals on Dec. 14.