Kleinsasser, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., ran the 5-kilometer course in 20 minutes, 52 seconds, placing 240th out of 268 finishers.
To qualify for the national race, Kleinsasser had run a 19:32 and finished 11th at the Region IV Cross Country Championship Nov. 10 in Omaha, Neb.
According to Hunt, qualifying for nationals as a freshman was a major accomplishment for Kleinsasser, who led her team to third place at the KCAC championships Nov. 3 with a fourth place individual finish.
“Just being a part of the atmosphere and running with the best in the NAIA was a vital learning experience for her,” Hunt added. “As a coach, my words can only go so far in preparing a runner for their initial nationals race.
“Now that Liz has that experience, she can build on it for next year. Adversity can bring out the best, and Liz will be that much better prepared mentally for her next race at nationals.”