St. Olaf will host the Division III National Cross Country Meet, and hosted the Pre-National meet as an opportunity for more non-MIAC teams to familiarize themselves with the course.
North Central College of Illinois easily won the team competition with an impressive five runners in the top eight, and all seven of its athletes in the top 12. Emory University of Georgia and Grinnell College from Iowa tied for second ahead of St. Olaf. Other out-of-state schools included Elmhurst College (Ill.) and University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.
At the NCAA regional meet, also held at St. Olaf, the Oles will have to contend with some of the competing schools. Captain David Swanson '08 asserted that the Oles still have work to do. "We probably have to get up with Grinnell if we hope to do well at Regionals," Swanson said.
On the individual side, Swanson finished third to pace St. Olaf. He was the first finisher not from North Central College. Swanson ran the race in 27:06. Nearly a minute and a half later, his first teammates finished. David Green '09 placed 28th in 28:34, while Jonathan Lambert '11 finished 33rd in 28:49. The Oles' other scoring runners, Cullen O'Neill '09 and Jacob Marotz '10, finished 46th and 47th, respectively. Other top runners included Timothy Drahn '09 and Michael Krahulec '09.
As a team, the Oles bested all other MIAC schools competing, including St. Thomas, St. John's, Augsburg, Carleton and St. Mary's. Swanson was the first MIAC runner to finish. For his efforts, he was named MIAC Male Cross Country Athlete of the Week.
Swanson offered mixed thoughts about the team's result relative to MIAC opponents. "It was good to beat St. Thomas, although a few of their top guys had to drop out because of dehydration or heatstroke," Swanson said.
Despite the encouraging and positive results, Saturday's heat undoubtedly affected the meet's results, as sirens heard around the St. Olaf campus indicated. Teams decided individually how to approach the heat. "A few raced their varsity. The notable exceptions were Carleton, St. John's, and LaCrosse," Swanson said.
It is difficult to ascertain exactly how to interpret the meet's results. The Oles and other competing teams are not likely to face such conditions the next time they race at St. Olaf, or in other meets.
Next, the Oles race in LaCrosse, Wisc. at the Jim Drews Invitational, their last tune-up before the MIAC Championships.