The women rose to the challenge and bested every conference opponent, though the three teams immediately behind them (St. Thomas, Gustavus, and Bethel) all hail from the MIAC. Jenna Carlson '09 emphasized the importance of performing well at the Griak.
"We came into the meet knowing that all the MIAC teams were competing so there was a bit of pressure," said Carlson. "By placing so highly and beating all the MIAC we showed that our team is talented and competitive in both the conference and the region. It really gives us confidence that we can win conference and quality for nationals."
As has become routine, Carlson paced individual Ole runners by placing 16th in the 567-runner field with a time of 23:22. Other top runners for St. Olaf included Jackie Kelly '08, who finished 34th, as well as Michaela McLaughlin '10 in 41st place, Margaret Ho '11 in 45th and Annie Knutson '08 in 57th place.
The meet continued the Oles' strong showing thus far. Before coming in fifth at last weekend's meet, they placed second in two slightly smaller meets, the St. Olaf Invitational and the Brissman/Lundeen Invitational.
The team is now ranked 18th in the country and third in the region. Of course, Carlson cautioned against excess excitement over such rankings at this point in the season.
"My view is to keep training and competing like we have been and see where that takes us in the end of the season," said Carlson. "It's the final national rankings that really count."
St. Olaf has the good fortune of racing at home often this season. Up next, they host the Pre-National meet, featuring a small, but eclectic field with only a couple MIAC opponents. Teams from as far away as Tacoma, Wash. and Atlanta, Ga. will compete.
Besides the Pre-National meet, the NCAA Central Regional meet will be held at St. Olaf on Nov. 10, with the NCAA championships here the following week.