Top seven to participate in NXN Finals on Dec. 4

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By Rachel Boyd

The top seven women’s cross country runners from the State Final will be competing in the Nike Cross Nationals, or NXN Finals, in Portland, OR on Dec. 4. According to Matt Wire, the assistant women’s cross country coach, these runners include freshmen Kelcy Welch and Gina Genco, juniors Renee Wellman, Sarah Bennett, Lauren Kahre, and Allison Jacobsen, and senior Alex Chitwood, along with men’s cross country runner senior Chris Walden.

“Two teams qualify out of each Regional which is made up of a bunch of states in the area,” Bennett said. “Then those two teams and the top five individuals of each Regional advance to Nationals.”

These participants will race against other runners from all over the country on a 5K course, but they will also take part in other events while in Oregon.

“Nike will fly us out on Thursday morning, and then there are a lot of events for the athletes like seeing the Nike store and Nike running facilities. Then we come home on Sunday,” said Bennett.

This is the first time the women’s cross country team has qualified for Nationals, but Bennett said she still knows that the competition will be intense.

“It’s the most elite team competition,” Bennett said. “There are teams from New York to California, so it’s the best of the best.”

Although Wire felt similarly about the intense level of competition, he said the team has big goals for the NXN Finals.

“I think being the top ten in the country would be awesome. Another goal is to be the best finishing Indiana team ever at this event. Westfield has been seventh before, so that’s our goal.”