"Saturday is not going to be easy by any means, but for the first time in my four years we're stepping on that line and saying we could win this meet," said co-captain Lisa Skildum '08. The team's "lucky #14" ranking is one of their highest in the team's history, and the women have performed extraordinarily well against top-ranked teams all season.
In their last meet, the Jim Drews/Tori Neubauer Invite on Oct. 13 in La Crosse, Wisc., the women placed sixth out of 27 teams. Jenna Carlson '09 and Annie Knutson '09, Olaf's highest-placing runners of the meet, finished in the top 20 with times of 22:51 and 23:02. All of the team's top five runners placed lower than 60 out of 187 participants.
In past years, only the top 20 runners have gone to this meet, said Skildum. "This year was kind of different we didn't stay overnight, but instead Coach Daymont took the whole team." She said it was a "great opportunity for the whole team to race together," especially because otherwise some of the runners would have had three weeks without a race right before the conference championships.
"This way, we had one more race under our belts before conference," Skildum explained, "and it was really fun to stand at that line and know that there were 40 girls behind you, cheering you on."
The women have been training hard all week to prepare for a challenging race on Saturday. As Knutson put it, "We were not expected to be a team to beat this year, but the way we have been consistently performing we are likely to be very competitive for the conference and regional titles."
"Our goal is to continue to perform as we have all season," she said, "and hopefully capture the conference championship. We really want it!"
St. Olaf will host both the MIAC central regional championships on Nov. 10 and the NCAA Division III championship meet on Nov. 17. On Nov. 3, the women's team is also hosting the Minnesota high school cross country state championship meet.
"The next few weekends will be a great chance for Oles to come down and cheer for some really fast runners," said Skildum. "We're really looking forward to it."