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ISSUE 118 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/1/2004

Fleet feet, times sweet: cross country takes third at Griak

By Dane Hamann
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 1, 2004

The St. Olaf womens cross country team took a brief road trip up to St. Paul on Saturday to run in the 19th Annual Roy Griak Invitational. The Oles turned out a spectacular performance, placing third out of 24 teams in the large, competitive meet. The field included conference foes as well as several out-of-state teams.

The women managed to outscore MIAC teams Bethel, Concordia, St. Bens and defending conference champion Gustavus. Unfortunately, both the Luther and Carleton women proved too much for the Oles, as they secured the top two spots at the meet. The St. Olaf women scored a solid 106 points thanks to great performances from their top seven runners.

It was a really good race for us, said Erin Weier 07, who finished third for St. Olaf and 21st overall. We started the race confident and strong and ended it that way.

A key tactic the womens team emphasized in Saturdays race was running in a close group, commonly called pack running. They were able to get their top seven runners across the finish line under 25 minutes, fast times for the six-kilometer race. The strong top seven found each other early in the race and stayed together until the white tape.

The group we formed just kept pushing each other faster and faster, Stephanie Block 07 said. Block was the Oles top runner on the day with a time of 23:37, good for 13th place overall.

The Roy Griak Invitational was held on the University of Minnesotas Les Bolstad Golf Course. Due to the track-like nature of the grass on the course, the race proved to be fast, despite the numerous hills spread sporadically through out the course.

It was definitely one of the more hilly courses of the year, Jenny Ingebritsen 06 said. Ingebritsen turned in a great performance and was the fifth-best runner on the varsity squad.

This year was the first year the Division III womens field competed in a six-kilometer race instead of the usual five-kilometer race. The experience will undoubtedly prove valuable to the Oles, as the MIAC has decided to switch the 5K conference race to 6K.

The last thousand [yards] of the course at Roy Griak was all new, Ingebritsen said. A lot of runners did not know when to start their finishing kick.

The other scoring runners for St. Olaf all improved their times since their last competition at the St. Olaf Invitational. Among those runners was Kezia Manlove 06, who was the second-best Ole on the course. The other runners among the Ole top seven were April Graves 05, Lisa Skildum 08 and Sarah Estill 06. They finished 24th, 31st and 34th, respectively.

We finally stepped up and raced other teams, Graves said. We raced as Oles.

The team will travel to Colfax, Wis. to compete in the Pre-Nationals meet on Friday. The course at Colfax will be the site of the 2004 Division III National Meet on Nov. 20, giving the women extra incentive to perform well. The starting gun goes off at 4 pm.

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