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Making ASU History: First in XC history to qualify for nationals

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 16:11


Xinzhong Zhao, Staff Photographer

Kristina Aubert, who finished first-team all Sun Belt Conference and was the first ASU cross country runner to qualify for nationals. Aubert competed at nationals taking 124th place setting a personal record of 20:56.

How tough is distance running? Marathoner Martine Costello describes the sport as  “You’re running on guts. On fumes. Your muscles twitch. You throw up. You’re delirious. But you keep running because there’s no way you’re not crossing that finish line. It’s a misery that non-runners don’t understand.”

It requires extreme dedication and high amounts of mental focus. It requires commitment to training and large amounts of patience. It requires guts, a high pain tolerance, and a competitive drive. These are all qualities that ASU student-athlete Kristina Aubert has learned and is continuing to develop as she competes for the Red Wolves’ cross country and track teams.

Aubert began running when she was twelve after her brother and sister began to run and told her how cool it was that they got to travel and compete. She decided to give it a try, and her running story began from there.

When looking to run collegiality, Aubert had three standards that a school had to meet for her to consider it: a D1 running program, a nursing program, and warmer weather than her hometown, Chicago, Ill.

Aubert searched for schools within a 9-10 hour driving distance from Chicago and found ASU using an online college search program.

She sent in a questionnaire and was on the phone with the head track coach that same night. “Some things are just meant to be,” Aubert said.

As a freshman in 2010, Aubert received “Freshman of the Year” at the Sun Belt conference cross country race. She continued to train hard and improve that winter during indoor track, but then faced a major obstacle when she broke her wrist and ankle while attempting to jump a hurdle practicing for the Steeple Chase.

The injury required surgery, and put her out of running for a three months.

While recovering, she rode the stationary bike to maintain aerobic fitness, but the injury caused her to redshirt  for the 2011 outdoor track season as well as her 2011 cross country season.

Due to redshirting, Aubert is currently a junior in ASU’s nursing program, but only a sophomore in terms of athletic eligibility.

One of her favorite running memories took place in the spring of 2012, as she was still fighting back from her ankle injury. She won both the 5K and 10K races at outdoor 2012 Sun Belt Conference tournament.

Aubert said, “The 5k/10k double at outdoor conference was the ultimate comeback after my surgery. I ran a special race after overcoming really awful circumstances. A lot of times in running, it’s the races that have a story behind them that mean the most.”

Injuries are tough obstacles for all athletes to overcome, but what obstacles are specific to distance running? Aubert provided some insight as to what makes distance training difficult on a daily basis.

“Running is unlike any other sport on campus,” she stated. “Other sports likely put in 20-30 hours a week of practice and weights. As a distance runner, puts in 10-12 hours a week of just running, and that’s all we do! When we tell other athletes our practices only last an hour to an hour and a half, they just assume we have it easy.”

What people don’t understand is that sleep and recovery are just as important, if not more important, in distance running. “It is important that I am disciplined in making sure I am getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night and eating the proper food to allow my body to recover,” Aubert said.

Making the transition into college Aubert had to change habits to make herself a better runner. “Going to bed earlier was really hard, when all your friends were able to stay up late,” Aubert said.

Putting these habits into practice and training hard over the summer have helped her achieve her dream of qualifying for Cross Country Nationals this fall. “I’ve never wanted anything more than to qualify for an NCAA National meet,” she said, “Ever since my freshman year when I missed nationals by 7 seconds, it has been my goal to qualify. Coming into college, I didn’t really know how far I could go with running, but Coach Chandler has guided me to become the best I can and now new opportunities await me every season it seems like!”

The NCAA D1 National Cross Country Meet took place two weeks ago in Louisville, Ky. Aubert was the first cross country runner in ASU school history to qualify for Nationals.

When asked about the experience, she responded, “The race was by far the scariest experience ever! You have the top 250 girls in the nation, and 50th place to 150th place runners can more or less run the same time, so it all comes down to who can “get out” the fastest and position themselves towards the front of the pack. Although I didn’t get off to a good start, I managed to pass about 100 girls in three miles to finish in 124th place with a 13 second PR (20:56 for 6 km). Honestly, just getting to be there and compete was a dream come true.”

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