The Oles weathered a sloppy course on Oct. 31 for the 2015 MIAC Cross Country Championships, which were hosted by St. Olaf at the Como Golf Course in St. Paul, Minn.
The women’s team ended its race with a third-place finish and a team score of 97 points, just 36 points behind the repeat MIAC Champion, Carleton, and 25 points behind second place, St. Thomas.
“Third place was a great finish for our team,” said captain Morghen Philippi ’16. “After graduating a great class of runners and dealing with injuries the last few weeks, the women on this team demonstrated pure heart and grit on Saturday. They poured everything they had into the race. It was thrilling to see that we could come together as a team and place well in the MIAC even in the face of adversity.”
Team captain Piper Bain ’16 led the Ole women with a third-place finish overall and a time of 22:43.7. Philippi and Jamie Hoonaert ’17 followed closely behind and secured sixth and ninth place finishes with times of 22:55.7 and 23:06.2 respectively, earning All-Conference Honors in the process.
The men’s team approached its race with confidence as the defending MIAC
champions and did not face any major threat on the course. The team solidified its fourth consecutive MIAC Championship title with a team score of 34 points, beating the runner-up, St. John’s by a hefty margin of 62 points.
Team captain Jake Campbell ’16 continued St. Olaf’s four-year streak of taking
the individual championship title with a winning time of 25:36.1. In addition to
Campbell’s personal achievement, five other Ole men took home MIAC All-Conference Honors for their impressive performances. Calvin Lehn ’16 and captain Paul Escher ’16 finished fifth and sixth overall with times of 26:01.4 and 26:08.8 respectively, and Joe Coffey ’17 landed 10th with a time of 26:34.3. Keith Ketola ’18 finished 12th overall with a time of 26:38.9, and Paul Timm ’18 rounded out the top 15 with a time of 26:44.1.
Bjork ’17 and Jacob Eggers ’17 recieved All-Conference Honorable Mentions for finishing within the top 25 runners with times of 26:58.4 and 27:20.1 respectively.
Both teams used Saturday’s race to build momentum for the NCAA Division III Central Regional Championships in Pella, Iowa on Nov. 14 where they will compete to qualify for the NCAA National Championship. The top two teams and top seven individual runners will automatically qualify to race for the national title on Nov. 21 in Winneconne, Wisconsin. However, teams can also qualify via an at-large bid.
The women will enter the race ranked fourth in the Central Region, but Philippi said all bets are off in the championship season.
“The conference and nation aren’t sure what to think of us. We are a young team, and a bit of an underdog. However, our program also has an outstanding reputation. If any team is going to pull through, it’s us. We could qualify some individuals, but it’s more fun to run with your teammates,” she said.
Much like Saturday’s conference race, the Ole men approach Regionals with high aspirations.
“Our goal moving forward is to win Regionals,” said captain Brian Klein ’16. “We’ve won it the past three years, so we will be going for a four-year streak.”
Klein said the team ultimately aspires to take back the national title, but he admits
reaching this goal will not easy, and certainly not a landslide like Saturday’s Conference success.