Women's Cross Country 16th at Roy Griak Invitational

By Nate Wilson-Traisman

On a blustery fall day in Falcon Heights, the Macalester Women’s Cross-Country team ran to a disappointing 16th place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational. Erin Lowery ’10 paced the Scots individually with a 28th place finish in the field of 567 runners.”I was pretty happy with my race,” Lowery said. “It was a great course and an amazing field, and I had a really strong finish. I feel like I could have placed higher had I gone out a little more aggressively, but that’s something to work on in the next few weeks.”

Lowery’s performance highlighted a less than satisfactory meet for the Scots. Macalester finished eighth out of the 12 MIAC schools competing at the Griak, in the first race of the season containing all 12 MIAC teams. Macalester finished sixth in conference last year, and ran much better against MIAC competition in their sixth place finish at the St. Olaf invitational three weeks ago.

“I think we’re a much better team than we showed last weekend,” Head Coach Jordan Cushing said. “It was disappointing to finish so far back out of MIAC teams.”

Washington University (Mo.) won the 22nd annual invitational, held at Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul. Forty-two teams participated in the meet, which was run in less than ideal, windy conditions. The top finisher in the 6K race was Becca Jordahl from the University of Wisconsin River-Falls.

Cushing took much of the blame for Macalester’s less than ideal performance. As of a few weeks ago, she decided to increase mile progressions during workouts, and to her that was apparent during Saturdays meet.

“We had done six workouts in the twelve days prior to the race, so our girls were tired,” Cushing said. “I have to do things to help them get better.”

She also noted that it’s harder for runners who falter to regain their rhythm at the Griak because there are so many competitors.

“Instead of having three or four people pass you, you have 30,” Cushing said.

Many teams peak their training for the Griak, and Macalester does not, so the Scots’ finish is not necessarily an indicator for what is to come.

“They [Macalester runners] know the St. Olaf course, so they’ll be able to have more of a context in the next race. It’ll be easier for the younger runners,” Cushing said.

Those younger runners have been making an extremely large impact thus far for Macalester. Five of the Scot’s top seven runners at the Griak were freshmen or sophomores, the two upperclassmen being captains Emily Dunn ’09 and Liz Nelson ’08, who finished second and third respectively for Macalester. Lowery paced the underclassmen effort turning in a time of 23 minutes, 55 seconds. Libby Tollefson ’11 finished in 24:49, which was good enough for an 83rd place finish.

“This is one of the most talented freshman classes that Macalester’s had in a long time,” Dunn said.

Macalester’s next race is the St. Olaf Pre-NCAA Meet, Saturday, in Northfield. Cushing claims that the MIAC is as packed as it has ever been, so it should be a good test for the Scots.

“St. Olaf is a course I run at a lot, and we’ve already run there this year,” Dunn said. ‘Hopefully some of the underclassmen can use that to our advantage.