MC's Beyer to Nationals for third straight year
When Mary Kate Beyer (East Peoria/East Peoria) runs at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Saturday at 11 a.m. in Waverly, Iowa, she will end her cross country career at Monmouth College as the sport’s most decorated woman.
Beyer earned her third consecutive trip to the championships by virtue of a fifth-place finish at last weekend’s Midwest Regional – the highest finish on record for a Monmouth woman in the regional meet. Earlier this fall, she joined Katie Staab as the only woman to earn four all-conference awards. Beyer is the only Monmouth woman to ever qualify for the national meet and is just the second Monmouth runner to qualify three times. She joins Dan Schisler, who was a three-time qualifier from 1990-92.
“It’s one thing to qualify for the meet,” warned coach Roger Haynes. “All the runners there have had so much success. She’ll have to have higher expectations and make some gains this week in order to move into All-American contention.”
Only the top 35 runners in the field of nearly 300 will earn All-American distinction. Beyer got a good start last weekend, earning All-Region honors while leading the Monmouth women to a 12th-place finish, their highest in the history of the program. Beyer’s 6K time of 21:41.7 was also a regional record for a Fighting Scot runner.
“Mary Kate was very focused last weekend,” said Haynes. “She’s been through the process and it’s a familiar course. She’s been in the 22-minute range a number of times this year, but she needs to have a good week of training. If she runs like she did last weekend and maybe picks it up a little, she’ll put herself into contention for All-American and move into that elite category. I expect she’ll have her best national race ever this weekend.”
Haynes is keenly aware of Beyer’s race history and it has certainly been on Beyer’s side. She has shown steady improvement throughout her career on the national stage. As a sophomore, she ran to a 74th-place finish and followed that up last season placing 58th.
While Beyer will be running as the lone Scot Saturday, she’ll be anything but alone in training this week.
“A good number of the women will train with Mary Kate this week,” said Haynes. “It will be a normal training week. We won’t taper her off a lot. She’ll work fairly hard this week to make sure she’s ready for the weekend.”
Beyer would love to add cross country All-American to her resume, but will need to be at the top of her game for her final race Saturday at the Max Course.