Grinnell College played host to the 22 teams competing in the Central Regional race. Temperature at race time was a chilly 38 degrees and a light mist fell as the runners waited for the gun.
Perennial powerhouse Wartburg College tore through the rain and the rest of the field to take the championship with an 11-point cushion over runner up Nebraska Wesleyan. Wartburg placed three runners in the top ten, including overall champion Josh Moen. Iowa's Loras College claimed the final National Championship meet slot, finishing eight points in front of St. Thomas.
Despite the fact that no Tommie finished higher than 11th, St. Thomas' cumulative score of 116 was one better than the 117 posted by the Oles.
The MIAC was well represented at the event. St. Olaf and St. Thomas finished in the top five, and MIAC teams occupied six of the top 10 spots.
Kelly Fulton '05 once again led the way for the Oles to finish eighth overall in a stunning time of 25:02. Sam Hauck '06 crossed the line 22 seconds latter to finish in 13th place. Peder Arneson 04 finished his career as an Ole harrier with a 19th place finish. He covered the 8K coursed in 25:29.
Rounding out the scoring for the Oles was Malcom Richards '05, the fourth Ole to cover the course, who finished two seconds and three places behind Arneson. Nic Reichenbach '04 wrapped up his career with a 55th place finish.
Jesse Horst 06 finished right behind Reichenbach with a time of 26:39. Paul Sovik-Siemens '05 was the final Ole to cross the line, coming in 77th place.
While the team will not return to Nationals, they will not be unrepresented. Fulton will make his second trip to the year end meet and look to improve on his 95th place finish of a year ago.
In the 2002 National Meet, Fulton posted a time of 26:22, 80 seconds slower than his time at this years regional contest. In addition, he improved on his 2002 Central Regional performance by 29 seconds in this years race.
With his times consistently dropping, there is no reason to believe the physics major from Billings, Mont. cannot place well when he lines up against the nations elite crop of Division III runners Saturday.
Fulton earned the berth by being one of the five fastest individuals on a team not heading to Nationals.
The Oles nearly had two harriers heading to Nationals as Hauck finished 11 seconds off the pace set by St. Thomas' Nate Coleman, the fifth and final runner to leave Oakland Acres, Iowa with a trip to the National meet at Hanover College in Indiana.