Kristina Aubert’s first race as a member of the University of Arizona cross country team proved to be unique.
The result, however, was typical Aubert.
Running in a borrowed uniform at an elevation of almost 7,000 feet, Aubert won the George Kyle Classic on Sept. 6 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Aubert’s time of 14:36.3 in the 2.6-mile race was more than 31 seconds faster than the second-place finisher.
“I wasn’t even supposed to race,” said Aubert, a Crystal Lake South graduate. “It was very spontaneous. I didn’t even have my uniform.”
Aubert, a redshirt senior who transferred to Arizona after graduating from Arkansas State in the spring with a nursing degree – and school and Sun Belt Conference records galore – had planned to do a training run with the team before the meet .
“My big goal going into that race was not to get altitude sickness,” Aubert said. “[The altitude] didn’t bother me at all.”
She followed that race with a victory by 41 seconds at Arizona’s own 3-mile Dave Murray Invitational on Sept. 19.
Aubert’s goals for her final season of college eligibility are as big as her winning margins.
“I want to be an All-American in cross country and track,” she said. “And I want to race (at nationals) with my teammates there. I don’t want the individual glory.”
Aubert was a trailblazer at Arkansas State, becoming the first athlete in school history to run at cross country nationals.
Because of the demands of nursing school, which included clinical rotations at a hospital off campus, Aubert often felt alone as a member of the team.
“There were times when I wouldn’t see my teammates for a week,” she said. “Nursing school took a toll on my body. [Because of clinicals] there were days when I would wake up at 4:15 (a.m.). I would run all by myself when it was pitch black. I really felt like I was living two different lives. “
In the spring, an injury kept Aubert from running the 5,000-meter event at the NCAA track and field regionals. The injury and disappointment of not competing aided her decision to continue her career at Arizona, where she is a graduate student studying public health.
So she put her nursing career on hold, bypassing a spot in a nurse residency program on a medical/surgical unit at Chicago’s Swedish Covenant Hospital.
“I talked to my boss at the hospital and she was really understanding of me chasing my dreams,” Aubert said. “She said I could come back next year and the position would still be there. But even if she would have said no, I would’ve come here anyway. I didn’t want to live with regrets all my life.”
Her early impressions of running for a Pac-12 school are all positive.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “The resources they have for athletes’ recovery and training are amazing. It’s like a different world.”
Her lighter class schedule as a graduate student has allowed Aubert to adjust well to the approximately 75 miles a week she runs with the Wildcats. At Arkansas State, Aubert said she ran about 50 miles a week. The increased mileage is something Aubert expects to make her times drop even lower.
“I definitely think there’s room for improvement,” she said.
Kronforst puts on a show: Korey Kronforst, a junior forward for D-II Minnesota State, Mankato’s women’s soccer team, leads the No. 2-ranked Mavericks in goals (five), points (10) and game-winning goals (three) this season.
The Cary-Grove grad was the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Player of the Week winner Sept. 15 after scoring the game-winning goal Sept. 14 in a 1-0 win against then-No. 1 Grand Valley State. Kronforst’s goal snapped GVSU’s 27-match winning steak, which tied for the fourth-longest run in D-II history.
The Mavericks are off to a 6-0 start to the season, including a 3-0 mark in the NSIC.
Tonyan's smooth switch to WR: Indiana State University sophomore Robert Tonyan (McHenry East) has switched from quarterback to wide receiver this season for the Sycamores (2-1).
Tonyan caught four passes for 47 yards in ISU’s season-opening 28-10 loss to Indiana. Last weekend, Tonyan had three catches for 32 yards to help ISU, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, upset Football Bowl Subdivision member Ball State, 27-20.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Tonyan played in 11 games as a quarterback last season and made three starts.
Soccer stopper Gustafson: Cary-Grove grad Erik Gustafson, the 2013 MVP of D-III Augustana College’s men soccer team, has helped his team to a fast start in 2014.
The Vikings (6-2) have won four matches in a row with the help of Gustafson, a junior defender.
Augustana has won five matches by shutout this season and has allowed six goals this season for a 0.75 goals-against average. Augustana’s opponents are averaging only seven shots a match.
• 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.