To say that the St. Olaf men’s cross country team won the NCAA Division III Regional Championships in Pella, Iowa on Nov. 15 would be the understatement of the year. The Oles obliterated the competition, placing five runners within the top 10 finishers and beating runner-up Loras College by a monumental 57 points.
Grant Wintheiser ’15 once again led the way for St. Olaf, winning the 8K race in a time of 24:45.6. The championship was Wintheiser’s second in his intercollegiate career, having won the event previously as a sophomore in 2012. Eli Horton ’15 of Central College attempted to spoil the party for St. Olaf, finishing in second place. It proved to be only a minor obstacle. Jake Campbell ’16 finished in third position in 24:45.6. Just behind him was Jake Brown ’15 in fourth place in 24:50.7. And right behind him was Paul Escher ’16 in fifth place with a time of 24:54.1. Capping off the remarkable performance by the Oles was Phil Meyer ’15, who claimed eighth place in 25:03.3.
St. Olaf ended the event with a team score of 21 points. The total was 30 points better than the 51 the Oles scored to claim the regional championships 12 months ago.
St. Olaf will now prepare for the NCAA Division III Championships in Mason, Ohio on Nov. 22. The Oles are the defending champions, but are currently ranked behind North Central College and the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Both teams will fancy their chances of capturing the national title; however, St. Olaf will be reluctant to relinquish its title of National Champion.
The St. Olaf women’s cross country team will also compete in the national championships, following a hugely impressive second place finish at the Central Regional Championships.
Leading the way for the Oles will be Amy Waananen ’15, who finished in 12th place, Jamie Hoornaet ’17, who finished in 13th and Piper Bain ’16, who finished in 14th place. The Oles placed 26th at last season’s NCAA Division III Championships.