Kenai's Knudsen an All-American

Posted: Monday, December 29, 2003

Former Kenai Central cross country runner Kristi Knudsen earned All-American honors earlier this year, placing 25th at the NAIA National Cross Country Meet in Louisville, Ky.

Knudsen's finish was good enough to help her Black Hills State University team run to eighth place in the nation at the meet, held Nov. 23. The women's meet was won by Simon Fraser University of British Columbia.

Back home for a holiday break, the senior track and cross country star said she was happy to have finished her college running career with such a prestigious honor.

"It was good," she said. "Top 30 was my goal, so I was happy with that."

Knudsen said she hadn't been running her best going into the race, and wasn't sure she'd crack the top 30.

"I was a little worried," she said.

However, the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park course proved to be a perfect place for Knudsen to get out and run.

"The course was really flat and fast," she said.

She finished the 5-kilometer course in a time of 18 minutes, 28.7 seconds, just 1 minute, 25 seconds behind the winner, Mirriam Kaumba of Oklahoma Baptist.

The race marked the fourth consecutive time Knudsen made it to nationals with her Black Hills teammates, and her best finish ever after finishing 43rd the previous two seasons.

Although the finish was a good one for her personally, Knudsen said she was a bit disappointed with the team's overall performance. Black Hills was ranked as high as third in the nation early in the season, and Knudsen said she thought the team had the capability to finish higher than eighth.

"We could have done a lot better," she said.

Now that her cross country career is over, Knudsen is setting her sights on the upcoming track and field season, where she'll be competing in the 3,500 and 5,000 meter distances.

She said her goals in track are much the same as they were in cross country.

"I'm going to try to go to nationals and try to get All-American," she said.

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