Menƒ?TMs CC continues fourth place MIAC finish

By Emily Dunn

The Macalester Men’s Cross Country team finished fourth at the MIAC Championship meet on Saturday and extended its four year streak at the position. The Scots beat Bethel by nine points for the fourth spot in a young MIAC meet which featured only nine seniors in the top 50. The meet also saw the fall and rise of MIAC teams as St. John’s won its first title since 1999 and St. Olaf dropped out of the top four for the first time since 1994.

Only Carleton has been more consistent during Macalester’s time at fourth, finishing in the top three for the last five years.
Macalester scored 145 points, 110 points behind St. John’s and 49 behind third place finisher Carleton. The team scored 42 more points than last years MIAC team losing several high finishes, but was able to keep its hold on fourth place.

“Repetition, I would say getting fourth this year was as good as the first time. We overcame a lot of obstacles this year. Every guy can and will run better,” Head Coach Matt Haugen said.
As it has been all year, the team was lead by Dylan Keith ’07 who finished 11th overall, three spots lower than his 2005 finish. Keith who recently became Macalester’s third fastest runner, was considered a top challenger for the individual championship after running a very successful fall campaign. The individual title went to Hamline’s Travis Bristow, who Keith beat earlier in the season at the St. Olaf Invitational.

“I was sick, I was nervous too. I wanted to win real bad. There was a lot of jockeying for the first two miles, no one wanted to be in front,” Keith said.
Matt Wegmann ’08 bounced back from a foot injury and used a strong kick to become Macalester’s second finisher in 27th place, only three seconds in front of David Auguston ’07.

Ten seconds behind this duo came Macalester’s fourth and fifth runner, Kyle Braam ’08 and Ben Garnett ’07, who were separated by two seconds.

“It was the best pack finish of any team I have been associated with in 16 years of MIAC,” said Haugen.

While fourth through seventh were only separated by 37 points, Macalester was able to separate itself from its competition by the tightness of its two through seven runners, who were separated by less than 30 seconds.

The team was helped after unexpectedly losing several returnees by strong transfer and first year runners.
The front of the race was dominated by Hamline and St. John’s, who together had nine of the top fifteen finishers. Hamline, the defending champion, returned six of their top seven runners, but was upset 35 to 41 by St. John’s, who Macalester beat by two points for the fourth place in the 2005 race.

“I loved seeing the new Mac orange uniforms, that was my highlight, and watching the guys finish was great,” Haugen said.

The team returns to action at the central region meet Nov. 11 at St. Olaf, a course the Scots have already seen twice, to try and extend their season to the national meet.

Qualifying for the National meet is different this year as they have expanded the field size from 24 to 32 teams and has changed the procedure in selecting team for nationals. Instead of assigning berths based on prior results at nationals, regions will be assigned two automatic spots (16 total). The other 16 are picked at-large and a maximum of five teams a region can qualify.
Macalester has its work cut out to improve on last year’s eighth place finish and qualify as a team with five central teams ranked nationally in the top 16. If Keith can regain his momentum from earlier in the season he has a real chance to be the first individual to compete at the national meet since Brandon Guthrie in 1999.

“Regions is going to be a relaxed walk in the park to qualify for nationals. All I have to do is run a normal race to qualify, and I’m familiar with the course,” Keith said.