The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Ekstrom makes nationals, seeks All-American honors

By Daniel Kerwin

Men’s cross country coach Matt Haugen has shown Wade Ekstrom ’10 the plaque that he won by placing fifth in the NCAA national championships in 1977, which earned him All-American honors. He makes no secret of the meaning of this honor, saying “when you make All-American, it’s for life.”Haugen told this to Ekstrom when he qualified for nationals as a track runner in the spring, as has been repeating it since last Saturday when Ekstrom became the first Macalester runner to qualify for nationals since 1999. Ekstrom is also the first runner to qualify since Haugen took over as coach seven years ago, which has been known as the Mac Pack era for the program.

“It’s deeply satisfying for Mac Pack to get an orange singlet to the NCAAs,” Haugen said. “It’s a culmination of all those years and the tradition that’s been passed on.”

Ekstrom felt like he had one of his worst races of the season at the NCAA Division III Central Region championships in Grinnell, Iowa, last Saturday, but his 10th place finish was good enough to send him to tomorrow’s NCAA championships. Ekstrom also placed 10th at regions last year, on that occasion narrowly missing out on a bid to nationals.

“Qualifying for nationals is exciting, but I know that’s not my goal, my end goal is to be All-American,” Ekstrom said. “I don’t want to just be there to enjoy it. If I’m not throwing up and I’m not All-American then there’s a problem.”

The NCAA championships are being held at Highland Park Golf Course, Cleveland, Ohio. Haugen says it is the kind of course that Wade does well on. Ekstrom will have to finish in the top 35 to earn All-American honors.

“We’re calling it a business trip: leave Friday, execute the plan Saturday, come back Saturday night very happy,” Haugen said.

Ekstrom’s nationals bid comes after a disappointing finish for Macalester at the MIAC Championships, the most important team race of the year. The team finished 9th after two straight 8th place finishes.

“I think in my heart I was hoping that we could climb into the top five or the top six if everything came together,” Nick Mangigian ’10 said. “It just sucked to be in ninth place.”

A highlight at MIACs was made by Dale Dybvig ’11, who lowered his personal best by 1:20.

“I just ran a lot faster than I had earlier in the season,” Dybvig said. “Well, over a minute faster.”

Dybvig and Mangigian ran together as a pack at regions, helping them both post new personal bests to finish the season of 27:03.4 and 27:05.9 respectively.

Tomorrow’s race will be the last cross country race of Ekstrom’s career, leaving the team without a star runner next season. However, there are signs that next year’s team will be competitive.

“We have some milk coming up underneath the cream,” Mangigian said.

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