Cross country season is finished following the team’s 22nd place finish at regionals.
At least one runner’s season could have been a little bit longer.
Senior Josey Rupert, the leader of the women’s cross country team for the last few seasons, won her second straight All-Region Honor. However, she came two runners away from a national bid.
As Rupert explained, the NCAA committee selects between two and six full teams from each region to participate in nationals. On top of those teams, the committee also selects seven individual runners. Unfortunately, this leaves the runners with little control of their own destinies.
As soon as Rupert finished her race at regionals, her attention turned to the other runners’ results and the committee’s decision.
“As soon as I finished the race it was just a waiting game for the next day,” she said.
“We got out Sunday at three and they ended up only taking three teams from our region, which is abnormal because we have a really fast region.”
The committee was equally cool on Rupert, selecting two runners ahead of her, ending her season at the All-Region stage.
Despite the near-miss, Rupert remains upbeat.
“I definitely had a good season this year and I’m happy with it,” she said. “My last race was the fastest race I’ve ever run, so I can’t be upset with that.”
Impressive for a runner who has entered Eastern’s record book with her race times and won numerous personal accolades. She saved her best time for her final race.
Even with her personal accolades, Rupert is even more impressed with the development of the team in the four years she has been with the program.
“We placed 22nd in the region and that’s so much better than we have in previous years,” she said.
“We moved up from like 48th in the region my freshman year and now we’re 22nd. That’s a huge jump, and (we’re) getting better every year, which is really awesome.”
Even though she won’t be around to see where the team goes next year, Rupert has made her peace with the way her career at Eastern ended.
She couldn’t be happier.
As for the future, she put it this way: “There’s always going to be new goals.”