Some athletes burst onto the scene ready to compete, like women’s cross country freshman Anna Wilgenbusch who has stormed into college athletics. On Sept. 1, Wilgenbusch lead the team in her collegiate debut at the 5k DBU Patriot/Orville Rogers XC Opener with a time of 20:15.7, landing her a spot in the top 20.
“I think it was definitely my parents,” Wilgenbusch said. “I’ve been running for as long as I can remember. My parents would always bring my sister and I to road races, and I just really loved the competition of it. I loved running and competing for a prize from a very early age. I joined cross country in sixth grade as soon as I could.”
Wilgenbusch earned the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Runner of the Week honors for her performance on Sept. 15 at the TLU Bulldog Invitational 5k with a time of 21:09, earning a 4th place finish. Wilgenbusch is the program’s first Runner of the Week since 2014.
“My school is a really small Catholic high school,” Wilgenbusch said. “We actually didn’t have a cross country team my freshman and sophomore year. I helped start it my junior year, and once that got started it’s been growing since then.”
Wilgenbusch lead all NCAA Division III runners at the 2018 Saints Invitational 5k on Sept. 22 with a time of 21:04.5. The University of Dallas finished second overall, ahead of Texas College, Schreiner University, and Sul Ross State University. Wilgenbusch commented on how her high school’s cross country program prepared her for cross country at UD.
“It definitely prepared me, both training wise and knowing what to expect in a race,” Wilgenbusch said. “Our conference in high school is pretty competitive. I lived in St. Paul, Minn., which is a pretty hilly place in general, so a lot of our races were really hilly. I think racing on those really hard courses repeatedly throughout high school really prepared me mentally for all of the courses that are a little more challenging in college.”
On Oct. 6, the women’s cross country team won the Ozarks Cross Country Invitational, placing ahead of the University of the Ozarks and Hendrix College. Wilgenbusch has lead the team in every 5k race so far this season. Finally, Wilgenbusch commented on some of her goals with the program before graduating.
“Personally I want to break 20 minutes for a 5k,” Wilgenbusch said. “I’ve gotten pretty close this season already, so I definitely think that’s possible. I would say overall as a team I just want all of us to continue to mutually support each other and mutually push each other because we can all achieve so much. I’m excited to see what I can do, but also what all of my teammates can do.”