The St. Olaf women again performed well in the annual MIAC Championships Saturday, held at Como Golf Course in St. Paul, finishing third overall.
The Oles were confident going into the race, having finished first in the Dan Huston 6K Invitational and sixth in a field of 22 at the LaCrosse Invite. Comprising the field in LaCrosse were a combination of Division I, II and III teams.
The Oles received some national recognition in the weekly raceberryjam.com rankings, finishing 21st in the latest poll.
"We were very excited coming into the race. We have focused on improving each race and practice," Andrea Gelle '07 said. "We had a positive attitude and knew the importance of what was up ahead. We were confident, but not overconfident, which was good."
Finishing ahead of St. Olaf were Carleton and St. Thomas.
The top finishers for the Oles were runners Jenna Carlson '09, with a time of 22:32:05, and Kezia Manlove '06, with a time of 23:40:55. Carlson crossed the finish line fourth overall and Manlove 15th.
Also scoring for the Oles were Annie Knutson '09 (20th), Stephanie Block '07 (21st) and Sarah Estill '06 (22nd).
In a sport that usually emphasizes individual performance, the Ole women have suceeded in forming a cohesive unit with the help of strong senior leadership.
"Sarah is one of those girls that is a natural team leader. She understands what it takes to be successful," Laura Olson '08 said. "Although she has experienced some individual success this season, she understands the big picture of the concept of the team, and not the individual."
Although the Oles felt as though they could have taken home the MIAC title, they know they must continue to work hard, as their season is far from over.
"Sure, the race could have been better," Nicole Novak '08 said. "There are mixed feelings among the team right now, and maybe a minor sense of disappointment. However, no one is beating themselves up, and that's what is admirable about this team. The MIAC race can be used as a motivating factor. We know we can do some damage down the road."
Down the road for the Oles is Nov. 12, when the team travels to Waverly, Iowa, to compete in the NCAA Central Regional. The race will include 15 teams, some of which will be familiar to the Oles (most notably their MIAC foes) and some against whom they have never competed.
In order to qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships, held in Delaware, Ohio, the Ole women will have to finish in the top four.