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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton’s cross country teams earn second place finish at conference championships

<ong>Men’s Cross Country:

The fable of the tortoise and the hare teaches children that slow and steady wins the race. Luckily for us, the Carleton men’s cross country team is smarter than that. With the pressure on St. John’s to perform well at Saturday’s MIAC Championships, the Knights amazed the crowd in St. Paul’s Como Park as they made excellent use of the second half of the race. While St. John’s played the part of the hare, the Carleton men, who are necessarily unique and free-thinking, refused to fall into the role of the tortoise: they instead proved that it is the fast and steady that comes in second place at the Conference Championships. St. John’s, winning with 49 points, and Carleton, with 63 points, clearly separated themselves from the rest of the conference. Hamline (109 points), St. Olaf (119 points), and Gustavus (134 points) took third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

Carleton and St. John’s were the only two teams to place five runners in the top twenty. The powerful duo of Quentin Kennedy ’08 and Joe Sepe ’08 fought their way to the front of the pack to finally finish in 6th and 8th place, respectively, with times of 25:55 and 25:58. John Nowinski ’08, whom the team can always rely on to race well, finished just behind his classmates in 26:09 to cross the line 13th. All three were named All-Conference for their performances. Meeks Brucker ’09 had a strong start, and continued to steadily move up through the masses for an outstanding race, finishing 16th overall. Charlie Gamble ’10, who along with Brucker, was named an All-Conference Honorable Mention, was Carleton’s fifth scorer, running a strong race to finish 20th.

The huge success of the men’s cross country team this year is due in large part to a very strong senior class, six of whom raced on Saturday. Seniors Eamon Monaghan (26th), Mark Felice (38th), and Andy Jahn (90th) have all had very successful seasons, and next fall will be a lonely one without them.

Looking forward, the men are currently ranked 22nd nationally, and are 3rd in the region, only behind St. John’s (8th nationally) and Nebraska Wesleyan (16th nationally). After their intimidating showing at the MIAC Championships and a significant loss of facial hair, the Knights are set up extremely well for the Regional Championships, scheduled for Saturday, November 10th at St. Olaf.

Women’s Cross Country

The Carleton women’s cross country team picked up an impressive second place finish at last weekend at the Conference Championships. The team fell just two points short of conference champion St. Thomas, finishing with 76 points to St. Thomas’ 74. Carleton is now ranked 22nd nationally in NCAA Division III and has jumped up four spots to 4th in the Central Region.

Carleton had two runners in the top 10 enroute to their runner-up finish, as well as having all five of their scoring runners in the top 25 overall. Leading the way with All-MIAC performances were Sarah Forzley ’10, Laura Roach ’10, and Heather Hoecker ’08. Forzley finished fifth overall in a time of 22:48.20, while Roach finished ninth in 23:01.80 and Hoecker finished 15th in 23:17.9. Karen Campbell ’09 and Irene Koplinka-Loehr ‘10 rounded out the scoring for the Knights, as Campbell finished 23rd in 23:37.15 and Koplinka-Loehr finished 24th in 23:39.90.

The finish continued a streak of strong performances for the team at conference. The Knights have finished in the top three at conference in nine of the last thirteen years. After back-to-back conference championships in 2004 and 2005, the team also finished runner-up in 2006.

This year’s runner-up finish was particularly impressive, however, due to the fact that the conference was much stronger than in years past, including several teams that are ranked regionally and nationally. St. Thomas, Carleton, and St. Olaf are ranked regionally and nationally in NCAA Division III, and Bethel is also ranked in the top 10 in the central region. Carleton had not beaten St. Thomas, St. Olaf, Gustavus, or Bethel before Saturday’s meet.

“We individually gave everything we could for the team, that is what this race is about and it is something we have been building on all season,” commented Laura Roach. “A lot of people were surprised by our performance, but I think we knew it was time for our work to pay off,” she said.

Senior co-captain Heather Hoecker is excited about her team’s performance and their outlook for the rest of the season. “All in all, I know this will be a race I’ll remember for years to come,” she said. “We have slowly been building momentum all season and this was our break through. I know the excitement of this race will carry through to regionals and help us make it to nationals.”

Regionals and nationals will both take place at St. Olaf. Regionals will be on Saturday, November 10, and nationals will be Saturday, November 17.

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