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ISSUE 118 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/24/2004

Women's cross country finishes close second to Macalaster

By Jesse Horst
Staff Writer

Friday, September 24, 2004

The St. Olaf womens cross country team stayed home Saturday to square off against their first serious competition of the 2004 season at the 29th annual St. Olaf Invitational. Finishing a close second in a large and competitive field, the Oles demonstrated a level of talent and depth which has become a fixture over the past several years.

With a roster that perennially exceeds 70 runners, competitiveness has become something of a foregone conclusion for the Ole women.

Among the 18 teams in attendance at Saturdays meet were UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire and the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Joining these traditional powerhouses were MIAC rivals Bethel and Macalaster, accompanied by JV teams from Carleton and St. Thomas.

Despite lacking several key runners due to injury, the Oles finished the six-kilometer race with 68 points  one shy of Macalester  for a respectable finish.

Losing to Mac[alester] is not a good thing to have over our heads, said Jenny Ingebritson 06, whose time of 24:57 was fifth-best on the team and 22nd overall. But with the injuries we had, we ran well. Well be ready to attack as the year goes on.

In the absence of key runners Brenna Bray 06 and Lindsay Boetcher 06, each currently battling injuries, the Oles looked to fresh faces to fill their score sheet.

This was a chance for new people to step up, said Kezia Manlove 06. People did.

Stephanie Block 07 was the first yellow jersey across the line, ending the race with a breathtaking dash to the chute, inches behind Macalesters Koby Hagen. This emerging rivalry promises continued excitement as the season matures. Block finished with a time of 23:59 in fifth place.

Not far behind was the ever-consistent Manlove, finishing in 24:21, closely pursued by Erin Weir 07 (24:36) and veteran leader April Graves 05 (24:38).

Rounding out the scoring runners were Ingebritson, Jennie Hedberg 08 and Sarah Estill 06. Hedberg and Estill finished with respective times of 25:01 and 25:04, good for 25th and 26th places.

Hedberg leads a group of talented first years including Casey Baustian, Lisa Skildom, Virginia Parish and Laura Olsen, all of whom look to be potential contributors as they grow accustomed to the longer distance of collegiate competition.

Adding to the teams injury woes, Erin Bengston 06 was hurt while racing and unable to complete the course.

Despite many setbacks, the last years MIAC runner-ups appear ready to put together a solid season.

In many ways we have a new team this year, Manlove said. And, that team is good.

The team will compete next at the Roy Griak invitational in St. Paul Saturday. The action gets underway at 9 a.m.

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