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ISSUE 117 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/3/2003

Fast-paced Oles place fourth at Griak

By Jesse Horst
Staff Writer

Friday, October 3, 2003

Cold temperatures and fast times were in abundance last Saturday as thousands of runners and fans converged at Les Bolstad Golf Course for the Roy Griak Invitational hosted by the University of Minnesota.

Ranking high among the highlights of the action packed morning was the St. Olaf women’s cross country team, who showcased their depth by racing to a fourth place finish in a field of 26 teams.

The Oles looked to several new leaders to push the pace and they found fresh faces ready and willing to take the challenge.

"It was a finisher’s race," said Sarah Estill ‘06.

The combination of a fast running surface, multitudes of competitors, and a shortened distance of five kilometers forced the harriers to tap into their deep pool of talent and look to more "speed oriented" competitors for leadership.

Among those rising to the occasion were Lindsay Boetcher ’06, Erin Weier ’07, and Stephanie Block ’07 finishing 22, 26, and 30 respectively

Using their pack-running strategy, the Oles were able to produce a spread of 12 seconds between their first and fifth runner, the smallest by far of all 26 teams in attendance.

Erin Bengston ‘06 spurred the pack on, running to an exciting finish, followed closely by Kezia Manlove ’06 and Larisa Nordstrom ‘06.

The result was another solid finish for the team as they placed fourth in a highly competitive field dominated by the MIAC conference.

"The race really gave us a chance to gauge the depth of the field and see what’s out there," said Estill in regard to this year’s hotly contested battle for the conference championship. Participating in the inter-conference showdown were teams from Carleton, Gustavus, and Macalaster, each earning a place next to the Oles in the top five.

It was a learning experience for a young Ole team not yet accustomed to large-scale meets.

In spite of this confluence of talent in the MIAC, the team is confident as it continues to position itself for the conference and regional meets.

Positioning is indeed the key concept as the team looks towards November.

"We’re focused more on our training right now than on where we’re placing in individual meets," said Stephanie Block ‘07.

Estil added, "We don’t train for [Roy] Griak, we train for the end of the year ... Worrying will get us nowhere."

The women continue their march toward season’s end with a tip to Colfax, Wis. to partake in the Midwest Challenge.

With a pack as tight as St. Olaf’s, this group of harriers will have every opportunity to dominate when it counts.

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