Emily Roberts makes epic career comeback and shines in final collegiate cross country race

UMary Cross Country Team Celebrates Runner-Up finish at NCAA Championships (left to right): Zach McBride, Assistant Coach; Lacey Feist; Emily Roberts; Ida Narbuvoll; Jaiden Schuette; Taylor Hestekin; Kate Fox; Bree Erickson; Assistant Coach Dillon Yearby; Head Coach Dennis Newell.

PITTSBURGH, PA – Further establishing themselves as one of the elite programs in the nation, the University of Mary women’s cross country team fought through difficult course conditions and inclement weather to claim second place at the NCAA Division II national championships. Behind the strength and depth of five All-Americans, this is the second straight year the Marauders have claimed the runner-up position at the championships.

Running in the rain at the Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park on a muddy 6,000 meter trail, Emily Roberts battled through the conditions to place third individually. Joining her on the All-American podium were teammates Ida Narbuvoll (12th place), Jaiden Schuette (17th), Taylor Hestekin (29th) and Bree Erickson (40th).

The Marauders finished with 83 team points to place second overall. Grand Valley State University won the championship with 41 points, led by individual champion Sarah Berger. Adams State was third (90 points) and Western Colorado placed fourth (98). Colorado Mines claimed a distant fifth (252).

“I am extremely proud of these women,” said Marauders head coach Dennis Newell. “Not just for today but for the collection of efforts they put into this goal all summer and all season. The culmination of so many variables came together today for these runners and it was so fun to watch the emotional jubilee this family experienced together from the result they produced. It is fun to dream big!”

UMary’s Emily Roberts finishes third at 2018 NCAA Cross Country Championships in Pittsburgh, PA.

Already a two-time cross country All-American after placing fifth for Southern Indiana at the 2015 and 2016 NCAA Division II championships, Roberts produced her best performance in her final collegiate cross country race. A transfer to UMary prior to the season after missing last year due to injury, Roberts kept improving throughout the year and peaked in the final race.

A senior from Fredericktown, OH, Roberts was bottled up at the beginning of the race and was 79th after the first 700 meters. She soon found her stride and solid footing and moved to second place after 1,800 meters. Roberts maintained second place until the final stretch, where she dropped back to third. She finished in a time of 22:15.5, just 3.1 seconds out of second place but nearly 15 seconds ahead of the fourth place runner.

Narbuvoll, who also missed last season with injury, picked up her third All-American citation and second with the Marauders. After finishing 17th in 2016 as a sophomore, she placed 12thtoday. Stuck in the back like Roberts in 88th place at the first checkpoint, the junior kept slogging through the conditions and passing runners. Narbuvoll was 36th after 1.8 meters and by the halfway point moved into 24th. Her closing kick allowed her to move into 12th with a clocking of 22:59.8.

A wet and muddied Ida Narbuvoll takes a breath after finishing 12th at the 2018 NCAA Cross Country Championships in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Northern Sun and NCAA Central Region champion, Schuette got off to a solid start and maintained her pace. In 21st after 700 meters, the senior from Bismarck, ND, ranged between 12th and 19th place over the remainder of the race. Her 15th place finish in 23:07.0 earned Schuette All-American honors for the second straight year.

In her first season competing in cross country after earning NCAA All-American honors last winter and spring for the Marauders track & field team, Hestekin rebounded strongly from her regional performance. Just 170th after 700 meters and 81st after 1,800 meters, Hestekin kept passing runners to move as high as 22nd before claiming 29th in 23:20.7.

UMary Cross Country All-Americans celebrate with their hardware at the 2018 NCAA Championships (left to right): Emily Roberts; Ida Narbuvoll; Jaiden Schuette; Bree Erickson; Taylor Hestekin.

At nationals for the second straight year, Erickson earned her first cross country All-American honor. It was also the last one available as the top 40 runners earn national recognition. Similar to her teammates Narbuvoll and Hestekin, the junior was trapped deep in the pack at the start before being able to break away. Running 90th at 1.8K and 71st at 2.9K, Erickson was able to keep her forward momentum to claim 40th in 23:33.1 and round out the Marauders team scoring.

Not far behind was sophomore Lacey-Feist Young in 46th (23:40.9). Kate Fox finished 146th in 24:56.3.

This was the fourth straight year the Marauders had competed at the NCAA national champion ships and the eighth trip overall.

Roberts third place finish is the fourth-best finish for a Marauders runner at the NCAA championships. Jennifer Agnew won the national title in 2013. Alexis Zeis won the 2015 national championship and was second in 2016.