With about 100 meters remaining in the five-kilometer race, newcomer Jessie Allen-Young of the Michigan women’s cross country team found herself running in third place. Realizing that the top spot was within her reach, she began to pressure her exhausted opponents by sprinting toward the finish line.
After outrunning Akron’s Morgan Sulzener, Allen-Young powered her way past Andrea Kramer of Miami (Ohio) to capture the individual title by less than a second. Her strong finish of 17:38 also secured the team victory for the Wolverines at the Miami Invitational in Oxford, Ohio.
“Jessie showed some toughness and determination at the end,” Michigan coach Mike McGuire said. “She’s been a welcome addition, and we’re excited to have her on the team.”
Allen-Young’s impressive debut wasn’t much of a surprise, considering she’s a graduate student with plenty of running experience from her days as an undergraduate at Dartmouth. Because of this experience, she will likely play a key role as a contributor on this team.
Allen-Young crossed the line nearly 15 seconds ahead of last year’s top Michigan runner, Rebecca Walter, who finished fourth in the race.
“I was definitely nervous before my first race,” Allen-Young said. “But I try to take my anxiety and focus it into positive energy.”
Allen-Young is still adjusting to the balancing act between school and athletics. Her class schedule often conflicts with the team practices, forcing her to train mostly on her own. For this reason, Allen-Young isn’t expected to play much of a role as a vocal leader, but she hopes that her diligence will rub off on her younger teammates.
“Hopefully, the team will respect me as someone who works hard and leads by example,” Allen-Young said.
Juniors Chelsea Loomis and Chelsea Homan also performed well for the Wolverines in the first scoring meet of the season, finishing in eighth and ninth place, respectively.
Junior Theresa Feldkamp rounded out the top five Michigan finishers, coming in at 11th overall.
“I was encouraged by what I saw today,” McGuire said. “A lot of good came out of this race, and we hope to build on it.”