Following its third place finish in the NCAA Division III Central Regionals last season, the St. Olaf women’s cross country team rebounded in this year’s regionals at Carleton on Nov. 12, taking home first place.
Five of the nation’s top 35 teams were in attendance, including Nebraska Wesleyan, St. Thomas, Carleton, Wartburg and St. Olaf itself, which heightened anticipation for a close, suspenseful race. However, the Oles distanced themselves from the competition early, finishing with a team time of 1:54:58 and a grand total of 91 points. They were the only squad to score under 100, convincingly defeating Nebraska Wesleyan’s second-place total by 19 points.
Mary Naas ’19 had the best performance for the Oles, coming in seventh with a final time of 22:21.5, nearly nine seconds ahead of the eighth place finisher. While St. Olaf did not have a runner in the top five, the team’s consistency easily netted them the title – five Oles finished in the top 30 along with Naas, including Jamie Hoornaert ’17, who finished 17th with a time of 23:03.5, Bryony Hawgood ’20, posting a 23:09.0 time to claim 20th, Jordan Lutz ’18, who finished right behind Hawgood with a 23:10.3 time and Jessica Bentley ’18, who closed out the scoring for the Oles in 26th place with a respectable 23:13.1 time. The St. Olaf women will look to continue their success after qualifying for the National Championships this Saturday, Nov. 19 in Louisville, Ky.
Men’s cross country didn’t fare quite so well, finishing third overall, their first non-first place finish in regionals since 2011. Headlined by Alexander Berhe ’19, who came in 15th with a 25:56.0 time, his fastest race of the season, and Joe Coffey ’17, who still finished 23rd despite a season high 26:05.1 time, the Oles were uncharacteristically lacking in depth. However, St. Olaf still ranks 14th nationally and was awarded an at-large bid to the National Championships along with their female counterparts. They’ll try to regroup from their upset loss in time for their final, most crucial race of the season, hoping to join the 2013 Oles in bringing home a national title to St. Olaf.