Forced to choose only seven runners, the Oles fought hard as they ran to a seventh place finish, missing a berth to Nationals by three spots.
Led by Kari Koos 06, the team took an aggressive approach, attacking the early miles of the six-kilometer course.
They went out too hard, said coach Chris Daymont. But thats exactly what we needed to do to give ourselves a shot. If it would have ended after two kilometers we would have been in great shape.
The team could not hold on to their spectacular start, however, taking 177 points and beating Carleton, finishing just behind other conference rivals St. Bens, St. Thomas and Gustavus.
Followed closely by Erin Bengtson 06 and captain Marit Grorud 04, Koos passed the mile mark at 5:50 presenting an early challenge to the lead pack.
We got out and went after it, said Koos. We were really aggressive and set ourselves up to go to Nationals. It didnt happen.
Koos completed the course in 22:48, good for 11th place. Grorud was the next Ole finisher, taking 28th place with a time of 23:09.
Circumstances were not in the Oles favor as a hard fall by Bengtson midway through the race cost her several key places, perhaps hampering the teams overall position.
Running in a tight pack, Bengtson tripped and fell, hurting her leg.
Nevertheless, she recovered, finishing third for the team and 36th overall.
Erin Weier 07 and Stephanie Block 07, rounded out the five scorers, taking 45th and 57th places respectively. Lindsay Boetcher 06 and Brenna Bray 06 were not far behind with 64th and 68th place finishes.
The team was forced to choose only seven runners this week from its massive ranks, creating a different atmosphere for the remaining few.
So many of our runners are so similar, said Daymont. Choosing between them was like splitting hairs.
For a team that has become used to running in large numbers, the change came as a challenge. You definitely loose some of the energy without everyone there, Koos said.
It will be the first National meet in 20 years without a runner from the womens team, but Daymont was not disappointed.
It was a great group to end the streak with, and it will be a great group to start a new one, Daymont said.
There is much to look forward to as this years overwhelming number of sophomores become upper-classmen. There will be a big difference in team leadership next year said Koos. There are a lot of returning members who will prove to be highly effective.