Terrorist attacks affect game plans for Norse runners

As the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks continue to affect the United States, they also took their toll on the Northern Kentucky University’s cross-country team.

The team was scheduled to race in the Bronx, New York City. on Saturday Sept. 22. Even though the race remained scheduled, NKU’s runners were unable to make the airline flight.

Athletic Director Jane Meier decided it was unsafe to fly.

“It didn’t make sense to fly into an area that had just been attacked,” Meier said. “It was an act of war.”

Only once a season does the Norse team get the chance to fly to a meet. Transportation to all other meets are by NKU’s athletic department’s vans.

Many of the team members were greatly disappointed.

“I was really looking forward to the trip, I was not afraid to fly,” junior runner Elaine Koenig said. “But I can understand from the university’s standpoint why they did not want us to go to New York.”

Meier explained, “I felt uncomfortable sending these young students there. Given the intensity of the situation, being only 10 days later, I felt it to be my responsibility for sending them there and it was just unsafe.”

Meier said she also checked with various other colleges that had plans to go to the Sept. 22 meet and they seemed to think the same thing; it was not the time for these college students to be sent to a place where they could be in danger.

However, the cross-country team still continued with its next scheduled meet, which was the Loyola Lakefront Invitational in Chicago on Saturday, Sept. 29.

The Norse competed among 41 other colleges. This race has more teams and runners compared to most others that the Norse generally runs in.

NKU’s team finished 21st overall.

“This placing was good for NKU’s women because we really aren’t used to competing against that many teams at that caliber,” said junior runner Jen Wertz.

After the Norse missed the meet the previous weekend in New York, team members Jen Wertz and Elaine Koenig thought the team was still up to pace with the other teams they competed against.

The Norse women fared well among non-division I teams in the meet, finishing with a score of 11th out of 27 teams.

The women’s race, a three-kilometer run, had 399 finishers. The Norse women were led by Elaine Koenig, who scored 39th in the meet with a time of 19:15. Also placing well was Lisa Faulkner, at 58th and Erin Engel, at 109th.

The Norse women were missing one of their key runners, Emily Sand, who is normally the team’s fifth runner. Emily has not run in the past two weeks because of a knee injury.