On Saturday, Nov. 14, the St. Olaf men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Central College in Pella, Iowa for the NCAA Division III Central Region Championships. Both teams finished the day successfully, with the men’s team proving the victor over a experienced field of teams, and the women’s team narrowely coming in third behind the University of St. Thomas and Carleton.
The women’s performance earned them an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III National Championships in Oshkosh, Wis. There were many strong individual performances at regionals, with Piper Bain ’16 coming in fourth place overall, Morgan Philippi ’16 in ninth and Jamie Hoornaert ’18 in 17th out of a 205-runner field.
The men’s team earned an automatic bid to next weekend’s NCAA Division III Championships with its resounding victory. The Oles had five individual runners in the top 20, including Jake Campbell ’16 in third place, Paul Escher ’16 in ninth, Keith Ketola ’18 in 15th, Paul Timm ’18 in 16th and Calvin Lehn ’16 in 19th.
Escher was excited with how the team performed and is looking forward to nationals.
“I was especially happy to see how some of our younger guys like Paul Timm really had great races,” he said. “That gives us some more depth heading into nationals. On a great day, we think we can mix it up in the top three and maybe pull out a win. As with anything, it comes down to how we and other teams race on the day.”
Both teams are poised for success at nationals considering the success that they have had in the past. This will be the women’s team’s eighth consecutive appearance and 23rd in St. Olaf history. The men’s team was runner up at nationals last year and was the national champion in 2013.