Nov. 15, 2012
FORT WORTH – Agnes Kemboi will represent the TCU cross country program at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Saturday in Louisville, Ky. The women’s 6K competition is slated to begin at 11 a.m. CST.
“She definitely has been a consistent, high-level performer over the last two seasons,” cross country head coach Liz Wort said. “She loves cross country, and she is always excited to go out and race hard. She is a tough competitor and always puts herself up with the best competition on any given day.”
Kemboi earned her ticket to the NCAA Championships with a fifth-place finish at the South Central Regional on Nov. 9. She earned All-South Central Regional honors to go with All-Big 12 honors earned at the conference championships.
“She has planned on running here all season,” Wort said. “After squeezing in last season, she was the first individual qualifier in our region. I think she will go into the meet feeling she belongs.”
The senior’s results speak for themselves. Two first-place finishes, earning Big 12 Runner of the Week honors after both victories, and a second-place finish to open the season were among the highlights. Kemboi has shown that she knows how to get to the front of the field and compete with the best runners.
“It has been a fun season,” Wort noted. “She has learned to push herself further than before. Being in the Big 12, it gave her more exposure to deeper and more high-level competitions going into the Regional Championships. I think she is in a really good place right now.”
Saturday will mark Kemboi’s second sojourn at the NCAA Championships, finishing 113th last season. Wort believes that the first visit to the national stage is the most challenging, and that a big improvement is on the way for Kemboi.
“She is reaching higher levels in practice and is a more fit runner,” Wort said. “I think she has taken her experience from last season and has used it well to prepare for this.
“The NCAA Cross Country Championships is an event that is really hard to prepare for if you have never been to it,” Wort continued. “The atmosphere is so different than any other meet. There are not thousands of screaming fans at every turn of a normal race. The race is the same, you are still trying to execute a 6,000-meter race, but everything else is so different. Experiencing it once is helpful.”
While the atmosphere will be much more turbulent than the average regular season meet, there are other factors the runner’s will have to consider. The field is the best of the best from all around the country and will be among the larger fields runners would see all season. While running towards a fast time is the ultimate goal, good strategy can help move you up in the field as well.
“How do you execute your own race within your own capabilities without getting caught up in the way everyone else is racing,” Wort inquired. “It can be a high-stress environment. We will run the course on Friday. She will get to see what it looks like, and we will have a good plan for Saturday. She has been approaching races much more confidently this year.”
This will be the last cross country race of an outstanding career for Kemboi. Regardless of the result, she will be recognized as one of the finest cross country competitors in TCU history. However, there are some big goals that Kemboi and Wort still want to accomplish Saturday.
“My goal is for her to finish higher than she did last year,” Wort said. “We want to see progress. Obviously, we want her to make top-40 and earn All-America honors. That would be amazing for her, and I think she is capable of it. However, that is what everyone’s goal is, and there will be over 100 runners trying to get into the top-40.”
The TCU traveling party departed Fort Worth Thursday morning to prepare for the competition.