Kleshchukova to take final run for UNO at the NCAA XC National Championships


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – One of the best distance runners to ever do it in University of New Orleans history will toe the line for the final time during her cross country career as Arina Kleshchukova is prepared to take on the nation at the 2021 NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships, set for Saturday, Nov. 20 at Apalachee Regional Park.

Kleshchukova will compete in the women’s 8K championships, which will get the day started at 9:20 AM CT.

“We are really excited for Arina to have the opportunity to represent UNO at the highest level at the National Championships,” associate head coach Brock Moreaux said. “She has had a phenomenal cross country career and I believe we are in the best position possible to go out with a bang. As a team we try to go into every day and every season with a goal to better ourselves, so that is our goal tomorrow. We are looking to go in there and be competitive for one last ride.”

Saturday, November 20 – Tallahassee, Florida – 9:20 AM CT (Apalachee Regional Park)
National TV: ESPNU
Streaming: ESPN+
Live Coverage: Live Stats
Social: @PrivateersTFXC – Twitter | Insta
UNO Links: News | Roster | Schedule

Kleshchukova will go down as one of the best distance student-athletes in UNO history after joining the program from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. On the course, the senior has podiumed all four years at the Southland Conference Championships, which includes her title-winning run in 2019 to go with two-second place finishes (2018 and 2020) and a third-place showing (2021).

She is also a two-time South Central All-Region honoree after she placed 10th in 2019 and 11th this season.

Kleshchukova took that conference and regional success to the national level and Saturday will mark the second time that the UNO standout has advanced to the national meet in her career. She is the first and only student-athlete in New Orleans history to advance to two national championships while at UNO.

Overall, Kleshchukova has racked up four race victories to go with countless Southland and Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) Runner of the Year awards. She has also been a multiple-time receipt of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic honors as an individual.

If you would have told Kleshchukova her season would be ending in a national championship appearance a few weeks ago, she probably would have told you that you were nuts.

Kleshchukova battled through an early-season illness that lingered over the first few weeks of the season that basically wiped out the incredible training she did in the summer at altitude in one swing.

She started the year with a DNF at the LSU Cross Country Invitational and followed it up with a 91st-place finish at the UAB Blazer Classic.

But she didn’t falter.

Kleshchukova put her head down and kept working to get back to her championship standard. The hard work in training and her preparation started to show as she bounced back with a fifth-place finish at the UAB Blazer Classic and followed it up with a gritty performance in her third-place showing at the Southland Championships.

Most people would have been satisfied with that, but not Kleshchukova, as she rode her strong momentum to an 11th-place finish at the South Central Regionals. The performance punched her ticket to nationals, where she is looking to improve on her 155th-place showing in 2019.

The 2021 DI Women’s Cross Country National Championship is taking place at Apalachee Regional Park, the home to Florida State cross country. It is a layout that is familiar to the UNO standout as Kleshchukova has already competed on the course twice during her Privateer career; a fifth-place finish at the 2020 FSU Winter Classic and a runner-up performance at the Florida State Invitational in 2019.

Fans and supporters will be able to watch Arina’s Last Run nationwide on ESPNU and the ESPN+ platforms.

Keep up to date with everything New Orleans Cross Country and Track & Field. Follow @PrivateersTFXC on Twitter, @PrivateersTFXC on Instagram, like /PrivateersTFXC on Facebook and subscribe to the PrivateerAthletics YouTube channel.

{courtesy: release from UNO}

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