On Saturday morning, Nov. 13, Anna Wilgenbusch, a senior theology major, qualified for NCAA Cross Country Nationals Division III, Region 10. She posted a top 10 finish with a time of 22:28.9.
Wilgenbusch is the University of Dallas’ first NCAA All-American and the 2019 SCAC Runner of the Year. This is the second time in history a runner from UD has qualified for the NCAA Division III championship. The first time was also Wilgenbusch in 2019, where she finished 38th.
In a message, Wilgenbusch said, “Qualifying for nationals meant so much more to me this year than in 2019.” In 2019, she competed in the less competitive south-southeast region while this year, she competed in the western region. The western region, according to Wilgenbusch, is one of the most competitive regions in the NCAA.
In an email, Coach Nick Schneigert revealed he constructed a very particular strategy for Wilgenbusch that she followed almost exactly to the letter. “I instructed her to run a 5:50 the first mile and the crazy thing is that she did that spot on,” he wrote. “It was a great result against one of the top athletes and in one of the toughest regionals in the nation.”
Schneigert also pointed out that UD should be extremely proud of Wilgenbusch, saying, “Honestly, this means more for the university as well as the team. Athletically, we are not known to compete with the best in the nation.”
Schneigert has high hopes for nationals. “The weather is looking fantastic and she is familiar with the course now. We both have a good plan of attack for this meet. Plus, she has much [more] experience now.”
Even though Wilgenbusch’s average times were faster in 2019, she has fought hard to be where she is this year. “I’ve had to overcome the mental battle of believing I wasn’t ever going to be good enough to compete at that level again in [c]ollege,” she wrote. “But for the seconds I lost in speed, I gained in resilience and mental stamina …Those things will last longer than any accolade.”
Join us in rejoicing in Wilgenbusch’s success as we celebrate her admirable achievements, both on the cross country track and in her own life.
The National Championship is scheduled to take place at the E.P. “Tom” Saweyer State Park course in Louisville, KY on Nov. 20.