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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

A disappointed fifth at MIAC, Women's CC looks to regionals

By William Kennedy

Macalester women’s cross country team has believed all season that they will qualify for the National Championship this year. Until last weekend, every race appeared to bring the team that much closer to realizing their goal. Last Saturday afternoon at St. Paul’s Como Park, the Scots lined up for the start of the MIAC Championship as the 19th ranked team in the nation, with realistic aspirations of winning their first conference title. Less than half an hour later, it was clear that the team will have to wait a little longer.

The Scots lost their national ranking, coming away for the second consecutive year as the unhappy fifth-place MIAC finisher. Additionally, for the first time in an otherwise remarkable season, Macalester raised questions about their readiness for high-pressure competitions. With less than two weeks before the Central Region meet in Waverly, Iowa, the veteran squad must now overcome the unanimous disappointment, as well as any lingering doubts, generated from conference.

Returning to practice after Saturday’s setback, head coach Jordan Cushing seemed pleased with the team’s reaction. “I know [we’re] better than what we raced,” she said. “At practice we were refocused and a little pissed.”

Based on their performances during the first five races of the season, the Scots had reason to be upset with their performance. Two weeks earlier at Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Mac had edged third-place MIAC finisher St. Olaf College and crushed fourth-place Gustavus Adolphus College for the second time this season.

Everything about the team’s build up to conference suggested that a top three MIAC finish was on the way, but Saturday told a different story. The Scots found themselves far out of contention: 33 points behind Gustavus, 42 points behind St. Olaf, and 49 points behind MIAC Champion Carleton College.

Disturbingly, a strong early season showing followed by disappointment at conference has become a frequent occurrence in recent years. As big races come up and tensions suddenly mount at the end of October, the record books show that Mac women’s cross country falters.

However, while some runners saw nerves playing a role at conference, Mac’s top seven are not ready to see the team’s race history as a trend that affects them.

“I really think it was just an off day,” Emily Stafford ’06 said. “Our goal is to make Nationals and if we run like we have earlier, there’s no way we won’t.”

Part of what made most of their season so successful coach Cushing said, was that the Scots ran together as a pack. Last week, despite All-Conference performances from Koby Hagen ’06 (8th) and Stafford (10th), along with solid individual efforts from Caroline Barnes ’06 and a comeback performance from injury riddled Allie Woerpel ’07, Macalester runners quickly lost contact with their teammates. The result was more separation between Mac’s scorers–their first through fifth runners–than there had been all year.

For Mac, it was a rare moment of disunity Cushing said. “We haven’t had to talk about goals this year because everybody’s been on the same page.”

Composed entirely of seniors and juniors, Mac’s top seven, several of whom have raced together for four years, will try to put everything together again in time for the Central Region showdown.

As the days count down until Nov. 12, the Scots will rely on their experience to remain poised for some revenge and redemption in Waverly. It may be that a fourth place finish or better at Regionals and a ticket to Nationals could be just what the Scots need to put this year’s MIAC Championship behind them for good.


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    Lauren ScottSep 7, 2019 at 1:17 am

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