The Wolfpacker

July-August 2022

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 43 of 59

44 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY MATT HERB hen NC State was se- lected to compete in the 2020 NCAA Cross Country Champion- ships, its prospects of contending for a na- tional title might have seemed faint. The Wolfpack was ranked fifth, and coach Laurie Henes' team was not at full strength going into the race, which had been pushed back to March 2021 due to the pandemic. Redshirt senior Dominique Clair- monte was still recovering from a bout with mononucleosis, while freshman Katelyn Tuohy, a high school sensation, was just getting back to competition after entering college with an injury that had interrupted her training. NC State finished second to BYU that day, and as good as it felt to outperform expectations, the most significant aspect of the Wolfpack's strong showing may actually have been the ripple effect that it had on the team's outlook going forward. Suddenly, winning an NCAA crown seemed like a lot more than just a pleas- ant thought exercise. As senior Hannah Steelman recalled, "We definitely knew that the national championship was re- alistic for us." Eight months after being edged by the Cougars for the title, Steelman and her teammates turned that goal into a tangible reality. The Wolfpack claimed the 2021 NCAA championship at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Fla., with its top five fin- ishers in the 6-kilometer race earning All- America honors. Junior Kelsey Chmiel, fresh off victories at the ACC Championships and NCAA Southeast Regional, was NC State's top performer, placing sixth. She was fol- lowed by Tuohy in 15th place, graduate Allie Hays in 22nd and Steelman in 24th. When junior Sam Bush crossed the finish line in 32nd place, the Wolfpack's national championship was assured. There was no chance for BYU to catch up. With its victory, NC State brought home the first NCAA women's champi- W FEMALE TEAM OF THE YEAR CROSS COUNTRY LIVING THE DREAM The NC State Women's Cross Country Team Turns Its Championship Vision Into Reality

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