Finishing eighth, Men's CC looks to the future

By Rebecca DeJarlais

The Macalester men’s cross-country team ended its season Saturday at the NCAA Central Region Cross-Country Championship, dashing hopes that the runners would finally be able to extend their season to the national level. The men finished eighth out of 20 teams in Waverly, Iowa, behind MIAC competition Hamline, Carleton, St. John’s and St. Olaf.

Pre-race favorite Nebraska Wesleyan landed at the top of the team standings with five runners in the top-20, earning one of five bids to the national meet tomorrow at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Only 30 points separated Macalester from fifth place, which would have qualified the team for the national meet. On paper, the Mac Pack was predicted to finish 11th at the region meet, based on last year’s results.

Roscoe Sopiwnik ’06 (26:18), Dylan Keith ’07 (26:31) and David Augustson ’07 (26:36) were the Scots’ top three runners, all finishing before the All-Region cutoff. Keith said the team boosted its All-Region total, up from two runners last year.

Nate Crider ’08 and Said Guled ’07 took the last two scoring spots for the Mac Pack. Zak Morrow ’08 and Matt Wegmann ’08 rounded out the Scots’ top seven.

By contrast, the team finished seventh in the 2002 season, but had no All-MIAC or All-Region runners.

“We obviously did a lot better this year, and it shows that the field was a lot more competitive,” Keith said. “It wasn’t what we wanted, and it wasn’t our best, but it was pretty good. [Thirty points] is nothing you can calculate or use during the race.”

Augustson, who ran between the two scoring packs all season, bridged the gap to the top Macalester runners, finishing five seconds behind Keith.

He said he initially had a good feeling about the team’s finish, before the scores were announced.

“As soon as I crossed the line, I was really optimistic for the team, because I had passed runners and Said and Nate were happy about their races, too,” Augustson said. “It was disappointing–I thought our coach was joking at first when he told us [we hadn’t qualified]. But we kept it close, and we were just a little bit short.”

Looking to the future, the Mac Pack will return six of its top seven runners from this year’s region team and 12 of its top 14 overall.

“This season went well, and I think it’s going to be even better next year,” Keith said. “Expect big things next year.