In recent weeks, both teams have had solid preparatory work for the race that is most highly regarded in MIAC track and field competition.
Both squads competed at Carleton May 4 and 5, the men in the MIAC decathlon, and the women in the heptathlon. On the men's side, St. Olaf's Ryan Doyle '09 finished sixth in the multi-event competition. His best finishes came in the 400-meter dash with a time of 52.13 seconds and in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.92 seconds. Doyle finished second in both events.
In the heptathlon, the Oles' Katja Anderson '08 brought home a fourth-place finish, tallying a victory in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.02 seconds.
For the men, the team competed in the St. Thomas Invitational on May 6, which was the final team competition before the men head to St. Thomas again for the conference meet. The Oles tallied an impressive performance from Pete Cathcart '06, whose shot put throw was good for first place. Cathcart's hammer throw was also good for second place in the meet.
Also, the annual Rolex Classic, a dual meet with Carleton, took place Tuesday at Carleton. The Oles rallied for several notable finishes, including the 1,500-meter run, in which Marc Ellingson '06, Andrew Petz '07 and David Green '09 finished one, two and three, respectively. In field events, the Ole men swept the shot put, led by Cathcart.
Individuals from both teams have been receiving deserved recognition this past week. Cathcart received the MIAC Field Athlete of the Week award for his performance at St. Thomas. Currently, his throw ranks him seventh in Division III.
On the women's side, Marla Nelson '06 received the same recognition for her pole vault performance at the Tommie Twilight May 3. Her vault of 3.45 meters is an NCAA provisional mark. The distance also ranks first in the MIAC and is a new personal record.
The conference meet will take place at O'Shaugnessy Stadium on the campus of St. Thomas. Competition will begin at 3 p.m. Friday with the preliminaries and continue Saturday at 4 p.m. with the finals.
"The conference has gotten a lot tougher," head coach Bill Thornton said. "Historically, the men's team has always overarchieved, and hopefully that's the case this year. If we can overcome some injuries, hopefully we can surprise some teams.
Chris Daymont, the women's track and field head coach, was optimistic about her team's chances.
"We are not a great championship team but we do have some athletes that should place highly," Daymont said. "We are counting on a couple kids to step up, but I think we can should finish in the top half."
The Ole men finished third a season ago, while the women finished sixth. St. John's (men) and St. Thomas (women) are the defending champions.