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ISSUE 120 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/6/2006

Cross country teams nab sixth

By Ryan Maus
Sports Editor

Friday, October 6, 2006

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams placed sixth at their respective races this past weekend, but as it turns out, that is where the similarities between the two meets come to an end. For the Ole women, it was off to downtown Chicago for Saturday’s Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, hosted by Loyola University. Lead by senior Erin Weir’s 15th place finish (in a time of 18:57), St. Olaf finished ahead of all but five schools in the 33-team field. Upperclassmen set the tone, as Brittney Schwager ’07 (28th place) and Jennie Hedberg ’08 (38th) were the team’s next two finishers, with Stephanie Block ’07 also scoring in 50th place overall. For her career-best 5K effort, Weier was named the MIAC’s Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week. Schwager affirmed that the team’s veteran runners have played a vital role in the squad’s overall success this season. The varsity team has finished no lower than sixth at any of their meets this season and has seen a consistent stream of solid performances from their top individuals. “The whole attitude of our team has shifted dramatically from last year,” said Schwager, who has been one of the team’s top two runners at every meet this season. “We’re very focused and disciplined, and we’ve eliminated some of the outside distractions that have hurt us before. Everyone just wants to do what is best for the team as a whole.” The Ole senior also commented upon the rather bizarre nature of Saturday’s meet, stemming from its location in downtown Chicago. “The course ran right along Lake Michigan, but it had us cutting through parks and going through tunnels, some really strange places,” Schwager said. “There were even vendors selling cotton candy and ice cream along the course… It was almost a carnival-type atmosphere, which is maybe one of the reasons we did so well.” The Ole men, on the other hand, took a substantially different route to sixth place at the 15-team UW-Eau Claire Blugold Invitational Friday afternoon. Sophomore sensation Cullen O’Neill was the men’s top runner, placing 24th in a time of 26:37. Following O’Neill for the Oles was David Swanson ’08 (35th), as well as underclassmen David Green ’09 (37th) and Keegan Healey ’10 (39th). Andrew Petz ’07, the team’s fifth finisher Friday, said the men are showing signs of improvement after a slow start this fall. “We’re starting to run better as a pack and things seem to be coming together well,” Petz said. “Our younger guys have really stepped up so far, and once we get our pack into a higher percentile [amongst all racers], we’re going to be fine.” Saturday, the St. Olaf will host its second home race of the season with the annual Pre-Regionals meet. The varsity men will not be racing (junior varsity will instead), but Schwager and the Ole women are eager to follow up on last week’s successful effort. “[Saturday] will hopefully be another step forward for us,” Schwager said. “It’s been such a great season so far, and I think we’ve got a chance to do some great things in the MIAC and beyond.”

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