On March 11 and 12, the St. Olaf men’s indoor track and field team competed at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in Grinnell, Iowa. The Oles put on a good showing, finishing in fifth place overall. St. Olaf was the only team in the MIAC conference to finish in the top 25 nationally. Other notable MIAC finishers were Augsburg in 34th place with six points, and Carleton and Hamline finishing in 38th place with five points each.
The men were quite successful in the individual events. Paul Escher ’16 won the mile for the second straight year, making him a two-time defending national champion in the event. Escher had a final time of 4:10.10, coming to the finish line only 0.52 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Haverford College’s Charlie Marquardt. This would seem to be the perfect ending to Escher’s college career. Earlier this season, he easily broke the former school record for the mile.Jake Campbell ’16 had a spectacular day as well, finishing second in the 3,000-meter race. Campbell gave the crowd everything they could have hoped for at the finish, beating out the third place runner, Nick Peterson of UW-Eau Claire, by only 0.01 seconds. Unfortunately, the two second gap between him and the first place finisher, Eau Claire’s Josh Thorson, was simply too large to overcome.
The Oles also got some help from their distance medley team, which came in sixth place at the championships. The medley team, led by the experienced sprinters James McFarlin ’16 and Kevin Skrip ’16, along with Sean Bjork ’17 and Jacob Eggers ’17, finished with a final time of 10:04.52.
The women’s team did not qualify any athletes in this year’s indoor track and field championships. However, it still has an outdoor season to compete in before setting its sights on next year’s indoor season. The outdoor track and field season begins April 2 for both the men’s and women’s teams. Their first meet of the year is the Hamline Invitational at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. Both the men and women will be hard at work preparing to hit the outdoor season in full stride, as the Hamline Invitational will feature some of the MIAC’s toughest competition. Expectations will be high as both teams look to capitalize on successful performances during the indoor season, with many athletes looking to make their final season one to remember.