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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Cross Country teams ready for Regionals

<ong>Women ranked second after victory at MIAC Championship

This weekend the women’s cross-country team will head down to Grinnell, IA to take on the Central Region and try to qualify for the NCAA Division III national cross-country championships.

The team goes into the meet ranked 2nd in the region and 16th in the nation but those numbers could mislead you into thinking that it will be easy for the team to qualify.

It won’t be.Coming off a solid win at the MIAC Championships, there will be a lot of teams aiming to take down the Knights and earn a coveted trip to Ohio.

The current favorite is Nebraska Wesleyan, who looks to be coming on strong the last few meets. Additionally, the Knights have not yet beaten Wartburg College, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Also, the strangeness of the MIAC race did nothing to take Bethel University and the University of St. Thomas out of the picture.

The Knights will be led by Simone Childs-Walker ’12, who has finished in the top three every time she has stepped to the line this season. It’s hard to guess what’ll happen in the next segment of the Knight’s line-up, but it’s likely that Laura Roach ’10 will be the next across the line. She has recovered from whatever bug nearly took her out of the MIAC race and is itching to face those runners again.

Taylor Ffitch ’12 has been battling sickness this week, but looks to be coming around and ready to race just as strongly as she did at conference.

Alison Smyth ’12 has also fought off her illness and is ready to tackle the course. I can’t make any predictions about what’ll happen for the next group of Knight runners, but Irene Koplinka-Loehr ’10, Nikki Reich ’10, Emily Fritz-Endres ’11, and Kaitlin Randolph ’12 will be working together, each taking the lead over whatever section of the race is their strength.

Additionally, there looks to be a strong contingent of fans traveling down to Grinnell to support the team. They could provide the Knights with that needed bit of extra strength to edge out the top teams in the region and earn a trip to Ohio.

Gamble and Davis look to help men repeat surprise finish of last year

Tomorrow, the men’s cross country team will compete at the NCAA Central Region Championship in Grinnell, Iowa.

The Knights’ top seven will clash with 14 other teams from Minnesota, 9 from Iowa and one silly squad from Nebraska that doesn’t even have an athletic conference.

Carleton’s harriers placed a surprising tenth at the region meet in 2008, led by an outstanding performance by Meeks Brucker ’09, an all-Region run from Charlie Gamble ’10, and a solid race from John Davis ’11, who finished one spot shy of all-Region honors.

Gamble and Davis are back leading the Knights in 2009, and have been 1-2 for the Fellahs at every significant meet this season, including the MIAC Championships.

Also returning from last year’s Region team are Blake Hansen ’10 and Chris Marshall ’10, as well as 2008 alternate Colin Sinclair ’11.

First-year sensations Bobby Davis and Josh Campbell will race their first Regional Championship.

The latest regional rankings, which have no real meaning at all, were released November 3rd, and favor Nebraska Wesleyan in the team competition. MIAC champs Hamline, Midwest Conference first-placers Grinnell, IIAC titlists Luther, and MIAC runners-up St. Olaf round out the top five.

The Knights have been ranked as high as ninth this season, and are currently outside the top ten. They were unranked prior to last year’s top-ten finish.

The top two teams tomorrow receive automatic bids to next Saturday’s NCAA Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. The next three teams are eligible to receive at-large bids. The Central region is likely to advance four teams to nationals.

In addition to these team qualifiers, the top seven individuals not on qualifying teams also advance to nationals. MIAC champion Dan Greeno of Bethel is the individual favorite, and the MIAC could nab five or six of the individual qualifying spots.

According to the occasionally-reliable internet weather channel, the gorgeous conditions of the past week will give way to some light rain in Grinnell, Iowa, which could make the race course a bit squishy.

Carleton’s thinclads raced at the Oakland Acres Golf Club in September and were greeted by hot temperatures but firm, fast course conditions. The temperature tomorrow should be in the upper 40’s, brisk for spectators but perfect for racing eight kilometers.

Barring a miraculous national-qualifying team performance, tomorrow will be the last cross country race in a Carleton singlet for Marshall and Hansen. Gamble has a chance to qualify individually if the Knights fail to advance as a team.

Spectators at tomorrow’s event may not recognize Marshall or either Davis. All three received hair cuts at the Page House East barber shop Wednesday evening in an effort to improve aerodynamics.

John Davis also sought to make himself unrecognizable to Augsburg’s Victor Sanchez, who likes to sit on Davis. To preserve his secrecy, the Knight captain will have to avoid Sanchez when the two squads dine at Pagliai’s Italian Restaurant later tonight, and hope that he does not read The Carletonian online prior to tomorrow’s race.

After the race, the Knights plan to return to Carleton for dinner at Burton Dining Hall, where they will drink soda and eat lots of ice cream.

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