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ISSUE 121 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/28/2007

Women run way to superb finishes

By Signe Knutson
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 28, 2007

On Friday, the St. Olaf women's cross country team finished a strong second of 26 teams at the Brissman/Lundeen Invitational in Davenport, Iowa.

The Oles garnered their second straight runner-up finish in a meet with 25-plus teams.

All five of St. Olaf's scoring runners made it in the top-25 in the 6K race. University of Wisconsin-Parkside, a Division II school, won the meet.

"Despite the heat and the presence of top-ranked Grinnell, we were ready to work hard and to embrace the challenges of the race," Jackie Kelly '08 said. "We all encourage and push each other to be physically and mentally stronger each race, each practice and each mile."

Jenna Carlson '09 led the way in eighth place with a time of 22 minutes, 44 seconds. The following four scoring Ole runners all finished within 12 seconds of each other.

Kelly placed 19th with a time of 23:32, while Abby Smith '10 finished right on her heels in 23:33. Michaela McLaughlin '10 came in 22nd with a time of 23:37, and Annie Knutson '09 placed 25th in 23:43. Non-scoring finishers for the Oles included Laura Cook '11 and Margaret Ho '11.

Runners were encouraged by the team's performance. "Our team came into the season with little expectation after losing many of our top senior runners," Carlson said. "We are certainly not the most favored team in the region or conference, but our team's cohesiveness, passion and strength could really surprise some people. We still have some work to do, but I am very optimistic for the rest of the season."

Other Ole women competed on Friday at the Blugold Open hosted by UW-Eau Claire. St. Olaf placed 11th out of 17 teams.

Out of 117 scoring runners, Kristen Higdem '09, Erin Murphy '10, Caitlin Marine '10, Emily Ellingson '09, and Nellie Adams '10 scored points for St. Olaf. 26:17. They finished from 54th to 80th.

The women will next compete at the Roy Griak Invitational Saturday in St. Paul, Minn. Their next home meet will be the Pre-National Meet on Oct. 6.

Despite their early-season success, the team does not want to let elevated expectations dominate their mindset.

"The season has been amazing thus far and we hope our hard work will continue to pay off, but in the mean time," said Kelly, "we plan to keep everything in perspective - we run because we love it."

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