By Dan Hiner
The Horizon League Women’s Cross Country Championship will be staying in Youngstown for another season. The Youngstown State University women’s cross country team won the conference championship on Saturday, with three runners placing in the top 13.
The Penguins have won back-to-back Horizon League championships for the first time in program history, and finished in the top three in the conference championship in each of the past four seasons.
“I think last year it was good that we won, but this year the pressure was more on us to win because once you come back from a win you obviously want to hold the title again,” sophomore Mckinsie Klim said.
Head coach Brian Gorby was aware the other teams in the conference would try to overthrow the Penguins as the best team in the Horizon League, and how much the conference has improved in recent years.
“We knew we had the capabilities to make a run at first and second, but these teams all last year were eight or 10 points behind us,” he said. “When we saw Anna [Pompeo] cross there was a sense of relief because when you’re on top everybody is trying to come after you.”
Mckinsie Klim finished fifth in the event last year. While she finished 13th out of 96 runners, Mckinsie Klim was disappointed in her time this year.
Her sister Michelle Klim finished seventh this year. She was also slightly disappointed in her time on Saturday.
“I was hoping to post a little better. It was a personal best of mine, but knowing how fast the girls were in the field — I was hoping to go maybe in the high 21’s, but it wasn’t as high as I wanted to go, but I’m still happy with it,” Michelle Klim said.
Senior Anna Pompeo ran the best time for the Penguins, finishing second.
“I was surprised,” Pompeo said. “I was not expecting to do any good time because the weather was kind of crappy and I was cold and miserable. So I was just trying to get through it. I was more focused on place than on time … just because I know we had to be up there to try to win this.”
Gorby was pleased with Pompeo’s performance. He said he was happy that she was able to finish her career with a win and was able to develop into a potential YSU Hall of Fame candidate.
“It was a sense of relief to see her second,” Gorby said. “She was probably third or fourth coming into the race. Two years ago she couldn’t even run in this race … she had a stress fracture. It was great to see her come back two years later, and come back and take second and help us win the title.”
For Pompeo, the conference champion was the last race of her career. She finished second during the conference championship last season.
“It was so worth it and it was so nice to finish back-to-back and it was such an accomplishment with these girls,” Pompeo said. “Our team has changed so much over the years, so to see us grow up and accomplish so much it was nice to have that final win.”