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Annie Wade (right) has made the most of her first session running for WOU.
November 19, 2013
MONMOUTH — Any cross-country runner or coach will tell you that every meet is just as much running against the course as it is running against the competition.
If that adage holds true, Western Oregon University's Annie Wade should be just fine come Saturday.
Wade qualified for the 2013 NCAA Division II National Cross Country Champion-ships, set for Spokane, Wash., Saturday, by finishing ninth at the West Regional Champion-ships Nov. 9.
The regionals were held at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex in Spokane — the same course runners will see at nationals.
"There will be a ton of people there who haven't seen the course at all," Wade said. "It'll definitely be beneficial for people who have ran it a few times."
Count Wade as one of those people.
When Wade arrives at the venue Saturday it will be the third time she's seen the course this year; she also ran the course last year when she was a student-athlete at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario.
Wade, a junior, transferred to WOU this year because of the school's criminal justice program.
Western cross-country coach Mike Johnson might have had something to do with it as well.
"We recruited her sincerely," Johnson said. "The belief was this was the best place for her to come to school."
In her last trip to Spokane, Wade's ninth-place finish was good enough for the best a female runner from Western has done at regionals.
Finishing the 6,000-meter course with a blistering time of 22 minutes, 33 seconds, Wade's mark didn't surprise Johnson.
"She didn't do anything I didn't think she was going to do," Johnson said. "From what we've seen in practice and what we've seen her do in races, I thought where she finished was pretty expected."
In her first year at Western, Wade has become one of Johnson's most reliable runners, leading the pack in several meets.
After her performance at regionals, Wade was named All-West Region by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Pair that with the fact that Wade is the lone WOU runner at nationals and you've got quite a bit of pressure on her shoulders.
Wade doesn't see the pressure though; to her, it's just another practice.
"I get nervous but I don't think about it until it's time," Wade said. "It doesn't feel like it's actually going to happen until it's time. I try not to let my brain get the best of me."