On a cold, blustery day, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sophomore Teghan Henderson (Pickering, Ontario) ran with the front group and earned All-American status at the 2013 NCAA Cross Country National Championships Saturday afternoon at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Championship Course.
“I was hoping for my inner Canadian to come out,” Henderson said. “I’ve never raced in such cold weather. I never thawed out.”
With temperatures dipping into the upper 20s and very low 30s, Henderson finished the 6-kilometer course in a time of 20:23.8 placing 20th overall. She was 16th at the 2k split with a time of 6:17.0. Two-thirds of the way through the race, she had dropped back seven spots to 23rd and was running with a time of 13:19.4.
Indiana experienced tornadoes and rain earlier this week and that caused the race conditions to be so bad that the start line for both the men and women was moved forward more than 100 meters. As a result, no time records would be set today.
“It was miserably cold,” UTC head coach Bill Gautier said. “Mud was up to the elbows. We duct taped her shoes on to keep her from losing them.”
Henderson, ranked 56th going into today’s race, followed the strategy she has used all season and that was to get out among the lead runners and hang in.
“I didn’t realize I was up that far until I looked beside me and saw there was no one in front of us,” Henderson said. “I started out a little too fast and about halfway I started to panic because my legs started to die. In the last 2K I got my second wind and was able to hold on.”
Henderson won all three regular season races in which she was entered this season, missing only the Greater Louisville Classic due to injury. She finished first at the Southern Conference Championships and finished out of first place by two spots and less than two seconds at the NCAA South Region. That earned her a spot in the national championships.
“It was awesome,” Gautier said of his 18-year-old runner. “I told her don’t be afraid to be in the front and she ran like she thought she should be there. She got up front like she was supposed to do and slipped like everyone else, but she did everything right.”
Henderson’s 20th place finish is just one spot behind UTC’s five-time All-American Shannon Wommack who placed 19th in the 2005 NCAA National Championships. Henderson becomes the fourth cross country All-American for UTC. Wommack earned the honor twice (2004, 2005) and Kathleen Turchin placed in the Top 40 in 2004.