Missouri's Kaitie Vanatta had a strategy and stuck to it. The result capped a superb cross country season for the freshman.
Vanatta finished 54th in 254-athlete field Monday at the National Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. She was the fifth freshmen to finish the race.
"Coming into the national meet, it is such a different experience," Missouri coach Rebecca Wilmes said. "Nothing you do can really fully prepare you for it, so that is what makes it even more exciting because Kaitie is just a freshman. At one point it looked like she was in about 100th place, but she made up a lot of ground from there. She stayed composed and stuck to her race strategy. It was just a really great day for her."
She started the race conservatively, but gained ground during the final 2,000 meters. Her time of 20:57:40 was the team's best since 2003.