Men’s, women’s cross country ends on positive note

By Shasta Webb

On Saturday, November 10, the Macalester men’s and wom­en’s cross country teams ran their final races of the 2012 season at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Central Region Champion­ships. The meet took place at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Out of 28 teams, the Macalester men placed 17th and the women placed 11th. The men’s team, led by Andy Keefe ’13, fell short of their Regionals goal by two places. Keefe placed 49th out of 185 run­ners. Joe Giamberdino ’15, Mac’s 4th place runner at the regional meet, said that, despite somewhat disappointing results, “[the team] was able to convey to [its] MIAC competitors that the future Mac Pack is a force to be reckoned with.” In agreement with Giamberdino, Coach Matt Haugen said, “I was optimistic that we could place in the top 15 teams at the regional, so a 17th place finish, although close to that goal, was disappointing. However, we still moved up three spots from the 2011 team’s finish.” On the women’s side, the runners were all smiles before and after the regional race. Clad in new neon orange warm up jackets, the women’s team was difficult to miss at Regionals, despite hun­dreds of runners and fans. Top performances from Rachel Gunsalus ’13, Lucy Andrews ’14, and Anna French ’13 contributed to the team’s success. Out of 187 runners, Gunsalus placed 25th, which earned her the title of All-Regional. The last time a Macalester woman earned All-Regional was in 2007 when Erin Lowrey ’10 placed 11th at Re­gionals. The team noted the positive difference it made having the meet in St. Olaf instead of Iowa, where it has been for the past three years. The proximity to Mac meant that the entire team and many of its fans could come and support. “It meant that we could be together as a team. This wolf pack runs deep. We run as a team, and we needed the team there,” Gunsalus said. Tess Carley ’13 said, “One of the things I’ll always remem­ber is Mac’s exuberance on the starting line. Most of the other teams look scared or nervous, and we line up cheering and joking and laughing—happy to have the chance to run together. We al­ways surprise the teams around us with our excitement.” “We were hopeful that we could put together a great race by all of our varsity women and I was hoping we could finish in at least the top half of the teams and higher than last year,” said Coach Betsy Emerson. The Mac women did better than expected, placing 11th (they placed 17th last year) which the team hasn’t done at Regionals since 2009. “We were all really excited and happy,” said Coach Emerson about the results of the Regionals race. MIAC Championships On Saturday, October 27, the Macalester men’s and wom­en’s cross country teams competed against all of the colleges and universities in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The race took place at Como Golf Course in St. Paul. In 2011, the Macalester men’s and women’s cross country teams both placed 9th at the MIAC Championship meet. In 2012, both teams improved to 8th place. The men were pleased with the improvement in the face of much adversity this season. “We didn’t reach our goal of getting 7th place, but overall our team improved a ton from last year. We were really strong at MIAC, especially considering we had so many injuries and set­backs over the season,” said Dylan Saul ’15. Giamberdino agreed. “I was incredibly pleased with how the team finished in the MIAC. We went in knowing that the competi­tion was tough, but we held our heads up, gritted our teeth and pushed through the pain.” Coach Haugen is excited for the future of the team, and plans to build on the improvement the team saw this year. Next season will also see the return of Ross Boehme ’15 from a season-ending injury and Dan Voss ’14 from a semester abroad. “We will have much greater depth in 2013, which will add competition for the top seven seats on the bus to next year’s Re­gionals. I expect big performance jumps from our current fresh­men and sophomores next season,” Coach Haugen explained. Next year, all but one of the men’s top runners will return to the team. Giamberdino and Coach Haugen are optimistic that, at full strength, the team will be good enough to break the top five in the conference. The women just missed their goal of placing 7th, and ended up in 8th place at MIAC. Seventeen of 26 women who raced reached new personal bests, which Coach Emerson said “is testa­ment to the training that we do to prepare for the championship meet at the end of our season.” Gunsalus led the Macalester women at MIAC, placing 17th overall, despite the fact that her shoe fell off 1000 meters before the finish line. Carley, Mac’s second place runner at MIAC placed 43rd overall. French and Andrews expressed disappointment at their per­sonal MIAC performances, but were quick to express gratitude to the team for being supportive, positive, and excited. “Personally, I was disappointed with my race at conference…[but] our pack running was something special; the meet will be particularly memorable for me because I had the great fortune to run much of the race with Becky, Tess, and Anna French,” said Andrews. French explained in an email, “I think I will always remem­ber this team for the vivacious spirit that we bring to a sport that can easily turn a competitor into a nervous ball of yucky. Rather than getting wrapped up in our heads and negatively competitive within the team, we really feed off of each other’s (often very vo­cal) energy.” A mixture of young talent and continual commitment from current team members bodes well for the future of the women’s team. Coach Emerson expressed her optimism for the 2013 season. “As I look to next year I am very confident that our rising seniors are going to provide some tremendous leadership and are moti­vated to see our team continue to improve and climb the ladder in our conference.” refresh –>