Men's Cross Country earns top-ten regional finish

By Seth Kreielsheimer

What was a roller coaster season for Macalester’s Men’s Cross Country team ended on a positive note Saturday with a tenth-place finish out of 23 teams at the NCAA Division III Central Region championships at St. Olaf College last Saturday. All-MIAC runner Martin Mudry ’09 led the Scots by placing 24th out of 157 runners with a time of 26:04. Senior Kyle Braam’s 25th place finish earned him an honorable mention in all-conference honors.Finishing second for the Scots, 20 seconds behind Mudry in 39th place was Wade Eckstrom ’10, followed closely by team captain Matt Wegmann ’08 who claimed 47th. Fellow seniors Tim Burns and Zak Morrow rounded out the top five for the Scots. Nebraska Wesleyan College captured the team title while Chris Erichsen of Saint John’s University won the individual title.

A season that began with a lot of promise when Macalester won the six-team St. Mary’s Invitational in early September hit several snags along the way as injuries and absences kept the Scots from reaching full force throughout the season.

Despite posting some of the teams best times in the men’s cross country program’s history during the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Brooks invitational and having three different runners lead the team at various times, the team had trouble grouping up and running together during the course of the season.

The MIAC championship proved to be the toughest race of the year for the Scots when they placed 8th out of 11 teams: the Scots had secured fourth in the conference each of the last four seasons, and this year’s four-place slide was a major disappointment. Mudry provided a bright spot on the day thanks to a 12th place finish that earned him his first All-MIAC certificate and extended Mac’s streak of having an all-conference finisher to five years.

After a week off, the Scots travelled down to Northfield to compete with their regional rivals in the most important race of the year. At last the team showed why head coach Matt Haugen calls them the Mac Pack. The Scots had five runners within seconds of one another at the mile and a half mark and briefly after opening the first mile in a 5:07 pace. After the blazing start, the Scots held on to finish 6th out of the 11 MIAC teams attending the regional race, avenging a dual meet loss to St. Thomas University from earlier in the year and beating third place MIAC finisher Hamline College.

The Cross Country team will graduate eight seniors this year, including Burns, Wegmann, Braam, Morrow, Joe Barter and Jakob Wartman, all of whom were in Macalester’s top-seven at one time this year.

The Scots plan to return 12 solid runners next year, but they will need some fresh talent if they hope to climb back up into the top half of the MIAC next year.