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ISSUE 118 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/19/2004

Women harriers finish sixth

By Dane Hamann
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 19, 2004

The St. Olaf women's cross country team finished up a long season Saturday in Waverly, Iowa. They rounded out the season on a positive note, placing sixth at the NCAA Division III Central Region Championships. The Oles needed a fourth place finish or higher in order to qualify the whole team for the national championships but were unable to do so.

Luther College ran away with the meet by amassing a total of 96 points, a whopping 53 points ahead of the nearest competitor, Wartburg College. Carleton (154) and Nebraska Wesleyan (179) rounded out the national qualifiers. Both St. Thomas and St. Olaf were gunning for the final spot, but St. Thomas narrowly edged the Oles by two points, 187-185.

Wartburg also played host to the 22 women's teams that came to the meet, and the six-kilometer race was run at the Waverly Municipal Golf Course. The start and finish of the cross country course were the only flat parts of the golf course, the rest consisting of a series of long, gradual hills. However, the racing conditions were so excellent that the hills did not seem to affect the runners to any great extent. The weather also cooperated beautifully, as the harriers were treated to a sunny 45 degree day with virtually no wind.

"It was probably the best weather we've had for any race this season," Kezia Manlove '06 said. "It was definitely the best weather for any regional meet in a couple of years."

Erin Weier '07 led the Ole charge, as she took seventh place with a time of 23:00. Despite having a personal best race, Weier missed qualifying individually for the national meet by one place. The top four women not on a qualifying team were eligible.

The next two Oles to cross the line were Stephanie Block '07 and Manlove, who used their pack running skills to finish 29th and 30th, respectively. Jenny Ingebritsen '06 was the fourth finisher for the Oles with a time of 24:26, good enough for 56th place.

An impressive batch of Ole first years continued their spectacular season by coming in fifth, sixth and seventh for the varsity squad. Those three runners were Jennie Hedburg, Siri Lohmann and Lisa Skildum.

The team raced well and was able to beat many MIAC foes. Perhaps its most impressive victory was over Gustavus, who took second at the MIAC championships a week ago.

The Oles were not disappointed by missing qualifying for nationals by nine points because they knew they raced well against many difficult teams.

"Everyone thought we would be disappointed with not qualifying [for nationals]," Weier said, "But, we were all very happy with our races. They were some of the best all year."

The Oles can now look forward to the upcoming track season and next year's cross country season. The Oles have high expectations for the 2005 cross country season as they will not lose any of their top seven runners.

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