After a second place finish in 2004, the Gustavus Adolphus women’s cross country team is set to return to the top of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Gusties are looking for their second league championship in three years, after finishing a runner-up finish to Carleton last season.
“We are definitely contenders [for the MIAC title],” says Head Coach Jed Friedrich. “St. Olaf is always contending for a championship and Carleton and Macalester are always tough.”
The Gusties return three of the top five performers from the 2004 squad. Gone are four-time all-conference selection Nichole Peterson and 2003 all-league runner Tasha Pike, but Lydia Davitt (Sophomore, Minneapolis, Minn.) returns after posting a tenth-place finish in the 2004 MIAC Championships. Other top returnees are seniors Mollie Lager (Robbinsdale, Minn.) and Melissa Kittock (Buffalo, Minn.), as well as sophomore Laura Edlund (Forest Lake, Minn.). Chandra Daw (Senior, Duluth, Minn.) and Hailey Harren (Junior, Cold Spring, Minn.) should also compete for spots in the top five. According to Friedrich, Daw has put in four solid years of training while Harren finished 11th in the outdoor 10,000 meters at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships last spring.
Seniors Ashley Cronen (Kandiyohi, Minn.) and Kourtney Joyce (Wadena, Minn.) have joined the Gustie cross country squad for the first time. Cronen has run sprints for the Gustie track squad the past three seasons, while Joyce placed ninth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Championships last spring. Among first-years, Friedrich believes Jill Fagerstrom (Rosemount, Minn.) has a good shot at challenging for a top seven slot.
Gustavus reported for pre-season training August 24 and will open the season September 3 against former Gustie harriers at the Alumni Meet in St. Peter. The squad’s first test against outside competition will be at the Saint John’s Invitational on September 10 in Collegeville, Minn.