Kristina Aubert’s favorite races are measured in kilometers.
As the top distance runner at NCAA Division I Arkansas State, Aubert was her usual dominant self at last weekend’s Sun Belt Conference outdoor championships in San Marcos, Texas.
On May 9, Aubert, a Crystal Lake South graduate, won the 10-kilometer event at the Sun Belt meet for the third year in a row. Her time of 34:58.38 beat the meet record by almost 25 seconds.
Two days later, Aubert defended her 5K title in a meet-record time of 16:44.55.
“She’s the best distance runner we’ve ever had,” said Arkansas State head coach Jim Patchell, a 1993 graduate of the school.
When Patchell was figuring out his lineup for the Sun Belt meet, he sought more team points by asking Aubert to also run the 1,500 meters.
“Originally, she didn’t want to do it,” Patchell said. “But she finally said, ‘That’s fine. Sign me up.’”
The result was an Aubert-like effort. She won the race in 4:31.84, breaking her own school record.
“It’s not my favorite event,” Aubert said. “Anything less than two miles feels like a sprint to me. I don’t do a good job of getting out well.”
Aubert, who admittedly knocks herself for a lack of speed, surprised her teammates in the 1,500. After the first lap, Aubert was in last place. However, with 700 meters to go, she decided to push the pace.
“I had a big surge and I got up into second place,” she said.
Aubert continued on a blazing pace to win the race in a time 3 seconds better than her record.
“My teammates couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I have to stop telling myself that I don’t have any speed. I’m faster than I think I am. That gave me a lot of confidence.”
Later this month, Aubert will compete at the NCAA West Regional in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The top 12 finishers in each event will advance to nationals in Eugene, Oregon, next month.
Aubert said she ranks 12th regionally in the 10K, a race in which she ran a school-record time of 33:54 in April. She also ranks 56th in the 5K, an event in which she ran a school-record time of 16:29 earlier this season.
“I’d definitely like to run both,” she said.
As for the 1,500, her career in that event is over.
“Thank God it is,” she said with a laugh.
Although her impact on Arkansas State’s track program is clear, Aubert’s future is not. A nursing major who earns her bachelor’s degree this spring, Aubert could begin her career at Chicago’s Swedish Covenant Hospital, where she did an internship last summer. She hopes to work as a labor and delivery nurse.
“I just love babies,” she said.
She also has the opportunity to use a final season of athletic eligibility at another school as a graduate student. This spring, Aubert decided on the University of Arizona, where she would team with Woodstock graduate Kayle Beattie and likely study public health.
“I’m 90 percent sure I’m going to Arizona,” said Aubert, who hopes to make a final decision by July 1. “It just feels like a good fit.”
McCumber earns freshman honor: Cary-Grove grad Brandon McCumber, a freshman pitcher/outfielder at D-III Milwaukee School of Engineering, was named this month to the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference All-Freshman Team.
In 11 pitching appearances, including four starts, McCumber posted a 3-3 record with a 3.20 ERA. He also pitched two complete games. At the plate, he drove in eight runs this season for the Raiders (13-23).
Winona accolades: Reed Karsten, a sophomore outfielder at D-II Winona (Minnesota) State, won Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference All-Tournament honors while leading the team to its fifth tournament title and the second-most wins in a single season in school history this spring.
Karsten, a Marengo grad, batted .397 and posted a team-leading 81 hits and six triples. She also scored 48 runs and drove in 35 for the Warriors (48-9), whose season ended last weekend in NCAA regional play in Winona. Karsten also earned second-team All-NSIC honors and a spot on the league’s Gold Glove team.
Lacrosse leader at Augie: Jacobs grad Alex Crescenti was named first-team All-Midwest Lacrosse Conference this spring as a sophomore at D-III Augustana.
The midfielder was second on the team with 36 goals and 40 points this season while ranking fifth in the conference in goals. During conference play, he scored 25 goals for the Vikings (9-7).
Mercer ace: Kirsten Stevens, a softball pitcher at D-I Mercer University in Macon, Ga., was named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Team this spring after helping the Bears (37-19) advance to the league tournament’s championship game.
Stevens was Mercer’s most prolific starter this season, posting a 16-6 record with a 2.21 ERA and 101 strikeouts. Opposing batters hit .230 against Stevens, a Prairie Ridge grad.
In the A-Sun Tournament title game, Stevens allowed three hits in a 1-0 loss to Stetson. For her efforts, Stevens was named to the all-tournament team.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryOnCampus.