NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Andrea Masterson will travel to Madison, Wisc., this weekend to complete her third and final NCAA National Championship.
Coming off her best season as a Bulldog, Masterson will take on the nation's best at the NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships this weekend. The University of Wisconsin at Madison is hosting the meet, and it is the first time since 2003 that it has been held at this venue.
Nonetheless, the course will be familiar to Masterson, as she raced there earlier in the season at the Pre-Nationals Invitational.
The weather is anticipated to be cold, a factor that is also familiar to Masterson and doesn't seem to impede her from competing at her best. The past two races, she has endured rain, snow and cold temperatures yet still recorded remarkable finishes.
Masterson is not dissuaded by the cold temperatures anticipated for the weekend, taking confidence from her previous performances in similar conditions.
"I think that competing at NCAAs the past two years has prepared me for this kind of meet, and a snowy Regionals race last weekend made me feel ready for whatever conditions the day brings," she said.
In rain, high winds and low temperatures, Masterson earned herself the Ivy League individual title. Similarly, in snow and low temperatures, she finished sixth in a packed NCAA Northeast Regional Championship last weekend.
She is entering her third straight national championship as one of the most accomplished athletes in Yale cross country history. Her experience in a large, talented field will provide her with an edge over other athletes.
Head women's cross country coach Amy Gosztyla also considers this an advantage.
"The fact that she has run in the NCAA Championships twice already in her career, and she also ran on this course already this season at the Pre-Nationals Invitational, really will help her come into this meet knowing what to expect," Gosztyla explained.
Last year, Masterson improved significantly on her finish at nationals from the year before, moving up nearly 50 spots. If her season thus far is any indication of how she will finish this weekend, she is poised for another substantial improvement.
Based on her current campaign, Masterson should be confident heading into the weekend. Notably, while she did not receive an automatic qualification spot, she was selected as one of only two athletes nationwide to earn an at-large bid, exemplifying the phenomenal season she is having.
Coach Gosztyla has also noticed her growth as an athlete in many respects this year.
"She has grown so much as a leader and she has really gained so much confidence in knowing that she can win races and accomplish big things by running her own race plan," said Gosztyla.
Consistently this season Masterson has blown away the competition by staying patient during races, and waiting until the final kilometers to break away from the pack. This field will be larger than most that she has raced in this season, but her strategy will remain similar.
"I think that the most important things for me to remember are to run with confidence and to make sure that I race with patience, making sure to run my own race," Masterson said.
As she approaches her final cross country race as a Yale athlete, Masterson should be bolstered by not just the impressive season she's had so far, but also the historic career she's had as a Bulldog athlete. The competition this weekend is a perfect opportunity for Masterson to add to a record-breaking season and cap off her noteworthy career as a Yale cross country athlete.
She is approaching the conclusion with mixed feelings.
"It's bittersweet to know that this is my last collegiate cross country race, but I'm really excited for the opportunity, and I can't wait to get out there and race."
For further meet information and to follow Masterson's race via live results, click here.
Preview by Gabrielle Rinne '19, Yale Sports Publicity