15 meets. 15 times lacing up. 15 times Kacey Raible would run for the Slippery Rock University cross country team. It all started in the fall of 2017. Raible started at Slippery Rock in 2016 but closed out high school not really enjoying cross country so she decided not to join the team. Cross country track and field head coach, John Papa, suggested that she try it. Fast forward to 2019 as she finished just one spot away from being in the NCAA Divison II National Championships.
“I started working super hard towards a goal just to get on the regional team,” Raible said. “Now I ended up getting top ten in the region.”
Raible actually didn’t even realize she almost had the opportunity to run until after her ninth place finish on Saturday at the NCCA Division II Atlantic Region Championships.
“I was not at all, though, expecting to have even a chance of going to nationals individually,” Raible said. “That was a huge surprise to me.”
“One shot of competing with the best of the best of D2,” Raible said.
Raible’s goal coming into the season was to be around last year’s performance of 18th. Raible knew that was going to be hard and the competition was going to be tough.
“One shot of competing with the best of the best in D2,” Raible said, if she had been given a shot to participate at nationals.
As a team, Raible said, they wanted to make it to nationals as they had lost one of their top four runners from last season. Raible also highlighted the overnight meets and the trip to Colorado earlier this season.
“Cross country is more of a family base so I love going to different meets where we stay the night and just bond,” Raible said.
When Raible isn’t running though, she is living in McKay. Raible is a dual major in early childhood and special education. Raible has won scholar athlete awards multiple times, balancing a mixture between academics and athletics.
“I’ve been taking 18, 19 credits the whole way up so I’ve had a lot on my plate,” Raible said. “Running almost helps me balance my classes which is why I think it turned into me becoming better because I use running as a stress reliever.”
Raible said she found that needed to find that balance when it came to athletes and it really does help her. Raible found that enjoyment when it came to running and now that her cross country career is over and is moving toward track season she looks past her time her at Slippery Rock.
“I can see myself in the future maybe taking on some 5K races or maybe a half marathon,” Raible said. “I definitely will continue to run.”
With Raible’s career in cross country ending she wants her team and future cross country members to know one thing.
“I most importantly want my team and future athletes on the cross country team just to know to believe in themselves,” Raible said. “I went from the bottom, not competing, last on the team in works outs to a top ten regional qualifier. I don’t know how many people can say that, that they went from the bottom to the top. That was all believing and hard work.”