INDIANAPOLIS--Leading up to the NCAA Regional Championships, HorizonLeague.com will profile the men's and women's individual champions from the Horizon League Cross Country Championships.
Wednesday, Nov. 13: Tess Ehrhardt, UIC
Thursday, Nov. 14: Eric Rupe, Youngstown State
For more more information on the NCAA Regionals, visit the NCAA Regional Central page on HorizonLeague.com
Meet Tess Ehrhardt
Hometown: Geneva, Ill.
High School: Geneva
2013 Season (Junior)
-Champion at the College of DuPage Invitational and the Horizon League Cross Country Championships.
-Registered three Horizon League Runner of the Week honors. Oct. 14 | Oct. 7 | Sept. 30
-Named Horizon League Women’s Athlete of the Year.
-For the second year in a row, led the Flames to a runner-up finish at the League Championships.
2012 Season (Sophomore)
-Posted a sixth-place finish at the UIC Opener.
-Earned All-League First Team honors based on her sixth-place finish at the League Championships. Finished the 5K course in a time of 18:20.
-Led the Flames to a program best second-place finish at the League Championships.
-Ran a 6K time of 22:47.33 at the NCAA Midwest Region, good for 101st place.
2011 Season (Freshman)
-Named All-League Second Team based on her 14th place finish at the Horizon League Cross Country Championships. Registered a 5K time of 19:57.4.
-Finished in 89th place at the NCAA Midwest Regional. Completed the 6K course in a time of 22:56.01.
After crossing the finish line in first-place at the Horizon League Championships on Nov. 2, you dropped to a knee. What was going through your mind at that point?
I was just really tired. Looking back on it, I wish I wouldn’t have because it looks kind of silly (laughs). I usually don’t do that but I was just really, really tired and I was grateful and thankful that the race was over.
You were in a tight pack with Louisa Coppola of Detroit and Youngstown State teammates Samantha Hamilton and Anna Pompeo. At what point did you feel like you could pull away from the pack?
Towards the middle of the race and actually a little bit before that point. I was kind of holding back because I didn’t know and was unaware of what everybody else was going to do so I was kind of holding back and waiting to see. But then I just took a chance in the middle of the race and just went for it.
After finishing in 14th place as a freshman and sixth-place as a sophomore, how satisfying was it to break through and take top honors at the League Championships?
It was really satisfying. A little less satisfying because Butler and Loyola weren’t there, but it was still satisfying. The Horizon League treats its champions really well so it was a cool thing to win.
On Nov. 15, UIC travels to Ames, Iowa for the NCAA Midwest Regional. What are your expectations for the race, which takes place at ISU Cross Country Course?
I have no expectations. I’m going to try my best to get a top 25. It might be a long shot but I’m going to try my best.
Long distance runners at the collegiate level compete in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. How difficult is it to balance the three sports along with school work?
It’s really difficult, that’s one of those things I tell people when they ask how hard is it to balance a sport and do your school work. It’s not like volleyball or basketball which is hard too, but we have three seasons so we are going all the time.
What are ideal running conditions for you?
For track, I like the indoors. I like the feel of running indoors better, it’s less pressure and you don’t have the elements to worry but I love cross country. I would say cross country is my favorite because I like being outside and I like the atmosphere better.
Your grew up in Geneva, Ill. which is roughly one hour from Chicago. What drew you to UIC?
UIC is right in the city and coach (Jim) Knoedel. He didn’t seem as intense as some of the other coaches and I didn’t feel like I’d be owned by my athletics.
Who is the funniest teammate you have?
Rebecca Zaiter. She is spontaneous and doesn’t care what people think. Whenever we go on runs and with Chicago being a tourist city we’ll see people trying to take pictures in front the Sears Tower or on the lake front so she’ll try to jump and leap into their picture and photobomb them which is pretty funny.
You are currently majoring in kinesiology with a concentration in movement sciences, what do you look to do with your major after graduation next year?
My ultimate goal is to be a prosthetist and get my masters in prosthetics and orthotics. I would then work in a clinic or hospital repairing and helping people get prostheses and orthotics.
Your freshman season UIC took seventh-place at the League Championships. Each of the last two years, you’ve led the Flames to runner-up finishes. What is the goal for next season?
We definitely want to win. We wanted to win this year and that was our goal. So next year it’ll be challenging but we really want to win because we’ll be hosting (at the Wayne E. Hannehl National Cross Country Course in Kenosha, Wis.) and we’ve gotten second twice. We’re on edge and ready to win.