Kleinsasser gains 'vital experience' at nationals

An ankle injury hobbled Tabor College freshman Liz Kleinsasser's efforts at Saturday's NAIA national cross-country championships in Kenosha, Wis., but nothing can take away from her outstanding season.

"It was a tough racing day for Liz," said Tabor head coach Karol Hunt. "Her injury hampered her ability to attack the hills. She was really disappointed about that."

Kleinsasser, of Lee's Summit, Mo., ran the 5K course in a time of 20:52, placing 240th out of 268 finishers. To qualify for the national race, Liz had run a 19:32 and finished in 11th place at the Region IV Cross Country Championship Nov. 10 at Omaha, Neb.

According to Hunt, just qualifying for nationals as a freshman was a major accomplishment for Liz, who led her team to third place at the KCAC championships Nov. 3 with a fourth place individual finish.

"Just being a part of the atmosphere and running with the best in the NAIA was a vital learning experience for her," Hunt added. "As a coach, my words can only go so far in preparing a runner for their initial nationals race.

"Now that Liz has that experience, she can build on it for next year. Adversity can bring out the best, and Liz will be that much better prepared mentally for her next race at nationals."