Near the end of the collegiate cross country season, Emily Venters was told by her coach at Boise State that she was nominated to run for Team USA in an international race.
After waiting for longer than a month, Venters finally received the good news on Dec. 13 through an email. She was selected to represent the United States on the 19-and-under junior women’s team in the Great Edinburgh XCountry Challenge in Scotland in January.
Initially, she expected to receive news during the previous weekend.
"I was like, ‘Oh no, I probably didn’t get it,’" Venters said. "I texted my coach and was like, ‘Have you heard anything yet?’ He was like, ‘No.’ Then a few days later we heard something."
A former standout at Free State, Venters had a successful freshman season. She was seventh in the Mountain West Championships, 22nd at her NCAA region race and 53rd at the NCAA championship race. At nationals, she was only 13 spots away from earning All-American status.
After all of the initial excitement, it started to sink in recently when she received her gear with U-S-A on the front of her uniform.
“When I got all the gear, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so cool. I’m going to represent my country,’ ” Venters said. “Wearing USA across my chest, it’ll be really cool I think standing on the line and being next to Great Britain and being like, ‘Wow, I’m representing my country.’ It’s something that’s like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you get. I’m thrilled.”
In the NCAA championship race, only two freshmen finished ahead of Venters, which gave her confidence that she would be picked to run in Scotland.
“I had no expectations going into the season,” Venters said. “I just wanted to make the travel team and I ended up doing that and going beyond my goals.”
Joining Venters on the six-person junior women national team is Cailie Logue, from Girard. The two ran against each other in several races throughout their high school careers, pushing themselves to state record times.
Logue is a freshman at Iowa State and was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
“I was so excited that I saw that she was going too,” Venters said, “because I just think it’s awesome us two Kansas girls can keep showing Kansas girls what we can do and what we’re made of. It’s exciting to not only get to represent Team USA, but Boise State and Kansas.”
Venters has two teammates at Boise State who were previously picked to run for Team USA in the same race. It’ll be her first international flight and first time outside of the country besides a couple of cruises.
She will run in the 6-kilometer race on Jan. 13 at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh.
“They told me the course is brutal, really muddy and you jump over streams and logs,” Venters said, “but they were like, ‘If you don’t take it too seriously, it’s so much fun.’ Basically they just told me to go have fun and go without expectations.
"It’s a trip out of the country with runners, which is so fun. Getting to do it for Team USA is even better."