The men’s cross-country team celebrated a resounding victory on Oct. 19, winning the Jim Drews Invitational by more than 50 points. All five St. Olaf scorers placed in the race’s top 11 finishers.
Grant Wintheiser ’15 finished the 8K race third overall with a time of 24:53. Brian Saksa ’14 came in close behind at 24:59, earning him fifth overall. Calvin Lehn ’16 ranked seventh with a time of 25:20, followed by Jake Brown ’15 with 25:23. Finally, Jake Campbell ’16 secured the last scoring spot for the team, placing 11th overall with 25:28. This race marks a significant success for St. Olaf. The Oles beat University of Winconsin-La Crosse, previously ranked second, on their own stomping grounds with a staggering 55 points.
UW-La Crosse placed second in the meet followed by Central College, Iowa Central Community College and Luther College. This race provided the St. Olaf team with the highest caliber competition they will face until nationals on Nov. 23. The victory encouraged optimism for the rest of the season.
“We are all super pumped to be ranked high,” Jake Brown ’15 said. “At the same time, we are both conscientious about other quality teams behind us and dedicated to our own improvement in each consecutive race, hopefully culminating with our best at nationals.”
The team counts on Wintheiser, the defending MIAC individual champion, to lead them to more upcoming victories. Still, he depends on the noteworthy performances of his teammates.
“I do feel a little bit of pressure, knowing that I am depended on to finish close to the top in all the races we go to,” Wintheiser said. “But having a group of talented guys surrounding you makes it a small problem because I know that if I have an off day they will be able to make up for me.”
The team also won the St. Olaf Invitational on Sept. 21 and came in second behind UW-La Crosse on Oct. 4 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugold Invitational. Currently, the St. Olaf men’s cross-country team ranks fifth in their division. The men attribute their triumphs so far this season to the immense dedication and effort put forth by each member.
“We’re ranked higher nationally than we have been in years, and it’s a testament to the hard work that accompanies our talent,” Phil Meyer ’15 said.
The team also relies on the close-knit community for encouragement and motivation. Meyer believes a large part of their success stems from investment in one another.
“Whether it’s running a challenging workout with a group out on the natural lands, downing pizza on the bus back from a meet or fulfilling goofy traditions, we enjoy each other’s company,” Meyer said.
The support these Oles demonstrate for one another has undoubtedly contributed to their success this fall. If their performance thus far is any indication, the team may have much more to celebrate at nationals next month.