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ISSUE 121 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/12/2007

Runners show depth with fifth

By Barrett Kennedy
Sports Editor

Friday, October 12, 2007

St. Olaf hosted the Pre-National Invitational on an uncharacteristically warm October Saturday. Overall, the Oles placed fifth out of 14 schools, led by a set of three seniors.

Casey Baustian '08 headed the pack of Ole runners, placing ninth overall with a time of 24:51.5. Lisa Skildum '08, the second St. Olaf runner to finish, crossed 22nd overall with a time of 25:30.9. Jennie Hedberg '08 rounded out the senior trio by posting a time of 25:43.4, which was good for 27th place.

"The course was sloppy, and the weather was hot and humid," Baustian said. "But everyone has to run in the same conditions. You can never prepare for the weather in Minnesota."

Other top finishers for St. Olaf included Rebecca Spurr '11, Alice Deden '09, Emily Ellingson '09 and Virginia Butt '11. Overall, 38 Oles competed in the invitational meet, but the top seven St. Olaf women runners had the weekend off.

Missing seven runners might prove to be an insurmountable disadvantage for some schools, "but the team has incredible depth and talent and was still able to beat some good teams from other parts of the country," Baustian said.

This weekend's meet featured a slightly different atmosphere than a typical invitational. "The Pre-National Invitational is a chance for teams to test out St. Olaf's courses before they possibly compete here in Nationals," Baustian said.

That elucidates the motives of Emory University, the overall winner of the invitational, for traveling all the way from Atlanta to compete in a single meet. The University of Puget Sound from Tacoma, Wash. also seized the opportunity to preview the course before the NCAA Division III Championships on Nov. 17.

Most conference rivals already have experience on the St. Olaf courses, so only five MIAC squads participated on Saturday. Macalester narrowly edged out St. Olaf as the top MIAC finisher, taking fourth place.

St. Olaf finished ahead of MIAC competitors Carleton, St. Mary's and Augsburg.

Saturday, the women head to LaCrosse for the Tori Neubauer Invitational, which will feature a number of top programs and individual runners in competition.

"[The meet] will give people a chance to run fast and hard before we take a week off, then race at the MIAC Championships," said Baustian. But the Oles remain cautious of looking too far ahead to the MIAC championship, held on Oct. 27 in St. Paul. "You just have to take it one meet at a time," Baustian said.

In addition to the NCAA Championships, St. Olaf will host the Karhu Shoe Race and the NCAA Central Region meet on Nov. 1 and Nov. 10 respectively.

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