first_imgFor many students, the hours leading up to this weekend’s Halloween festivities are filled with thoughts of foolishness and debauchery. But for Katrina Rundhaug and the rest of the University of Wisconsin women’s cross country team, this weekend might just bring loftier goals to fruition.Instead of worrying about costumes and parties, Rundhaug’s focus will be on the Indiana Cross Country Course in Bloomington, Ind., and the 2006 Big Ten Championships this Sunday.Rundhaug, a senior from Dodgeville, will compete at the Big Ten Championships for the last time Sunday, and she is hoping that any spectators to this weekend’s meet will witness the Badgers firing on all cylinders.”We have a pretty good chance of being able to win as long as we all run as well as we’recapable of running,” Rundhaug said. “It’s going to be really, really close. There are fiveteams that are all going to be within a couple points.”As for the course itself, it could prove to be one of the more difficult ones UW has encountered to date.”We ran there last year for regionals,” Rundhaug said. “It’s definitely hillier than the nationals course. I think it’s probably the most challenging course we’ll run this year.”The Badgers go into Sunday’s meet having tied defending champion and third-ranked Michigan for second place at the Brooks Pre-NCAA Invitational in Terre Haute two weeks ago, and Rundhaug admits that this year’s team has surpassed even her expectations.”We’re running better than we expected,” Rundhaug said. “We just keep getting better and better.”Rundhaug, along with freshman phenom Hanna Grinaker, has led Wisconsin to a No. 5 ranking nationally, and with hopes of victory going into this weekend’s meet within reach, Rundhaug credits Grinaker for much of this season’s success.”Hanna has made a huge difference on the team,” Rundhaug said. “She has a really good work ethic and a good attitude. She’s a really talented runner.”Last year everyone was just satisfied with being on varsity and getting to go to the meets,” Rundhaug said. “But now, having a team that is ranked so high motivates everyone. You don’t want to let anyone down.”After a 15th-place individual finish at last year’s Big Ten Championships in the Twin Cities, Rundhaug is eager to challenge the top runners in the conference again this year, and climb to the top of the Big Ten leaderboard. She finished 13th overall at the Pre-NCAA Invitational and is looking to improve come Sunday. “It will be one of the closest Big Ten meets that I’ve ever run in,” Rundhaug said. “I would definitely like to make first team All Big Ten.” But if it hadn’t been for a fortuitous change of scenery following her freshman season,Rundhaug could very well have been wearing maroon and gold at this Sunday’s championships.After garnering interest from both Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota following her senior season in high school, she opted to attend Minnesota, saying that their program was more suited to her particular running style.”I looked at coming [to Wisconsin],” Rundhaug said. “The only reason I didn’t is because [former coach] Peter Tegen’s training was a lot different. It was geared toward middle-distance runners and I’m more of a distance runner, so I went to Minnesota.”But after the departure of longtime coach Tegen following the 2003 season, and the arrival of current coach Jim Stintzi, Rundhaug jumped at the opportunity to come home.”It just worked out that coach Stintzi came here and his coaching style is perfect for me,” Rundhaug said. Rundhaug made the decision to transfer to UW after one year as a Gopher, and looking back, she feels that she made the right choice. “I just wasn’t happy at Minnesota,” she continued. “I knew the whole time I was there I really wanted to be here.” She has excelled ever since transferring to UW, and was Wisconsin’s top finisher in the six events she competed in during the 2005 season, a year culminating with all-region honors after a 12th-place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes regional last November.”Being from Wisconsin, I always wanted to be a Badger,” Rundhaug said. “I just wanted to run.”last_img