CROSS COUNTRY: Cold slows runner at nationals

Adam Eadens

For four seasons, Olga Cronin worked and trained for one goal: to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships. A week ago, the senior from Cork, Ireland, achieved that goal.

She ran the race of her life, faster than she ever had before by more than a full minute. She also unofficially ran the fastest 6K ever by a Sun Belt woman. In the best shape of her life, Cronin was ready to take on nationals.

And then came a problem.

The common cold.

“I wasn’t dying or anything,” Cronin said, “but I was still congested a lot, the throat and all the rest.

“I felt OK warming up, and I felt OK when we ran the day before. I really didn’t think it would be all that bad.”

And it wasn’t. But it was enough to throw Cronin off her game.

Cronin ran a 23:08 for 6K yesterday in Terre Haute, Ind. She ran 20:58 last week at the Southeast Regional.

“Olga is the ultimate competitor,” coach Curtiss Long said. “A normal person, normal circumstances would have quit.”

But Cronin didn’t.

She finished 248th at nationals, six spots from the last runner.

“I wasn’t going to pull out,” Cronin said. “That wasn’t an option.”

Reach Adam Eadens at [email protected]