Courtesy: Dean Hare
Hannah Kiser
Kiser 85th at NCAA Championship
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 11/21/2011
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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – University of Idaho sophomore Hannah Kiser finished 85th on Monday at her first career NCAA Cross Country Championship to cap off an outstanding second season as a Vandal.

Kiser ran a time of 20:54 on the 6000m course to turn in the second-highest finish ever by an Idaho woman at the NCAA meet.

“It’s really exciting to run with the best of the best, because no matter how you do, you’re still running against good people,” Kiser said. “I’m happy I had a good experience and I came away from it with a positive feeling about my race and about NCAAs and I’m proud of what I did today.”

Idaho director of track and field/cross country said the field of 253 runners is like an “all-star race” of the nation’s top distance runners, and that Kiser composed herself very well for her first performance at such an event.

“In track you have 20 to 30 girls qualify for NCAA Championships in every distance event from 800 meters up,” Phipps said. “In cross country, you’re essentially taking every single NCAA qualifier from all the track distance events, then you’re putting them all in one race. Finishing in the top third in that quality of a race is an amazing accomplishment.”

There’s no better example, Phipps said, than former Vandal Letiwe Marakurwa, a four-time Big West champion, two-time NCAA qualifier and 2003 All-American whose 67th overall finish in 2004 stands as the best by a Vandal at the NCAA Cross Country Championship.

“Hannah was running in front of girls who have already been All-Americans in track events, both indoors and outdoors,” Phipps said. “A 10-second improvement or a 10-second drop could move you 25 places either way in a race like this.”

Despite it being Kiser’s first career experience at a meet of that magnitude, Phipps said she handled the situation very well. Kiser said the key was to shut out all the hoopla and stay focused on the game plan.

“It’s really hard to settle, because everything around you is so dynamic,” Kiser said. “There’s constant noise and constant cheering from all around you, and you’re constantly passing people and getting passed by people. It’s very difficult to settle into any kind of rhythm.”

After her cross country experience, Kiser said she’s glad to get a week off to rest her body after an extended cross country season, but is also already looking forward to indoor track. After being the only Western Athletic Conference freshman to win multiple conference titles indoors last season, she comes into this season with her sights set even higher.

“My 5000 meter times in cross country this year were as fast as my times from outdoors last year,” Kiser said. “I haven’t run a 3k since last year, but I definitely have my eye on the NCAA qualifying time for that.”

With a little more than one month to prepare, Kiser and the rest of the Vandal track and field teams will kick off the indoor season on the weekend of Jan. 13-14, at the WSU Indoor Open at Pullman, Wash. Idaho’s first home track and field action will be the return of the Vandal Indoor on Friday, Feb. 3, at the Kibbie Dome.

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