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ISSUE 118 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/17/2004

Great things to come: mens cross country tunes up for season

By Joe Scholtz
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 17, 2004

The 2004 mens cross country season opened with a strong showing at the 33rd annual Luther Invitational, a junior varsity event this past weekend at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Collin Hodges 08 and Matthew Keller 08 led the Ole effort, with teammates Dave Stoy 05 and Tom Cruse 07 following close on their heels.

St. Olaf placed seventh in the thirteen-team field, though a difficult workout the day prior to the meet undoubtedly slowed Ole times.

Many members of last years varsity squad returned this year after strong performances in 2003. With eleven returning letter winners, the team is in position to legitimately challenge for the conference championship.

Among returning letter winners, All-American Kelly Fulton 05 is expected to consistently place well for the Oles. Fulton finished third overall in the 2003 MIAC Championships, and thirty-fourth in the National Championship race.

In addition to Fulton, All-MIAC and All Central Region honorees Sam Hauck 06 and Malcolm Richards 05 also return. Hauck and Richards placed fifth and seventh respectively at the MIAC championships last fall.

After last years third place MIAC finish, the Oles look forward to improving upon last years season.

Our teams goals are to improve last year's conference finish and to return to nationals as a team, said Paul Siemens-Sovik. We expect that our returning runners can accomplish these feats.

Though talent may favor the Oles, history does not; the team appeared in the 2002 National Championships, but has not won a MIAC title since 1976.

The Oles will benefit from a rigorous summer training schedule; many members ran in excess of 700 miles.

Many St. Olaf runners believe this years team is very deep, which should help throughout the MIAC cross country season. The Oles even expect key first years to fill in as the season progresses. Given the rigors of college running, many varsity runners will experience injuries and physical stress.

While new runners rarely make an immediate impact, younger team members often add much needed strength and depth once they become acclimated to collegiate competition.

MIAC competition remains stiff this season. Carleton, St. Olafs cross-river rival, returns most of its line-up from last year's team, including standout runners Chris Lundberg, Dan Bucy, and Stephen Harris. 2003 MIAC Champion St. Thomas should also field a good team, though they are not expected to contend for the conference title again this season. Carleton is ranked 17th in the NCAA Division III men's cross country pre-season poll. St. Olaf, the only other MIAC school to make the list, ranks 23rd.

St. Olaf opens conference competition Saturday, Sept. 18 at the St. Olaf invitational. Races are scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. The St. Olaf mens junior varsity team will compete again in Northfield at the Junior Varsity Classic at 4:00 pm on Sept. 24.

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