St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus men’s and women’s cross country teams are set to compete in the 2013 MIAC Cross Country Championships being held Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Como Park Golf Course in St. Paul. The women’s race will begin at 2:15 p.m. while the men’s race will begin after at 3:15 p.m.
On the women’s side, the goal is to return to the top of the podium and repeat last season’s performance as conference champions. The 2012 Gusties surprised the conference by coming out of nowhere to take the MIAC crown after scoring 57 points to edge out favorite St. Olaf College by three points. The Gusties placed four runners inside the top 15 who earned All-Conference honors on the way to their first MIAC title since 2003. Two of those runners, Kate Eggers and Beth Hauer who finished 10th and 12th, respectively, Head Coach Dale Bahr will have to do without after losing them to graduation.
“It’s obviously hard to replace those we lost from last season’s team,” said head coach Dale Bahr, “but our returners came into the season prepared and have worked their tails off all season long.
Coach Bahr says that the goal at the beginning of the season was to return as conference champions, and that that goal has not changed.
“Much like last season heading in the conference meet, we have yet go out and race our best from top to bottom,” Bahr said. “Because of that, I see this as an opportunity for everyone on the team turn in her best effort and for the first time this season put together a complete team performance.”
Leading the Gustie women will be veteran juniors Caitlin Fermoyle (Mendota Heights, Minn.) and Rebecca Hare (Albany, Minn.). Both Hare and Fermoyle paced the team on its way to an MIAC Championship last season with Hare placing fourth with a time of 22:29.4, and Fermoyle taking fifth with a time of 22:33.0.
Fermoyle has been at the front of the Gustavus pack this season and has posted two top 15 finishes and two more inside the top 25 at 6k length races this year. Her top race of the season came against Gustavus’s most competitive field at the Oct. 19 Tori Neubauer Invitational. Fermoyle ran a season-best 22:51.9 to finish 25th overall at the race.
Rebecca Hare has been steadily on Fermoyle’s heels throughout the season, recording times in the mid-to-low 23-minute range the last three outings. Hare’s best race came at the St. Olaf Invitational (Sept. 21) where she finished 11th with a time of 23:05.1.
Dale Bahr also expects his returning upperclassmen to come on strong this weekend and fill out the remaining spots of the lineup. Top returners poised contribute include Lauren Shurson (So., Chanhassen, Minn.), MaKena Hofer (So., Montevideo, Minn.), Marit Sonnesyn (So., Plymouth, Minn.), and Lyndsi Schwichtenberg (Sr., Owatonna, Minn.).
On the men’s side, the Gusties are looking for a turnaround performance after finishing tenth with a score of 252 a year ago. Dale Bahr has been pleased with the squad’s demeanor all season and expects a dramatic turnaround this Saturday in St. Paul.
“We raised our expectations and this incoming class has done a great job adapting to collegiate cross country,” said Bahr. “That is based on the attitude of our returners who have done an outstanding job setting the tone and embracing that new attitude. These guys have a team first attitude – they run for each other and they run as a team. We are shooting for the top five and I have confidence that this group can reach that goal if they come together on Saturday.”
In order to do the above, Gustavus will look to senior Joe Renier to set the tone – something he has done all season long. Renier, who finished 58th overall and sixth on the team with a time of 27:24.7 at the 2012 MIAC Championships, has emerged as the team’s leader and front runner this season. The senior has finished under the 26-minute mark twice with his top performance coming by way of a 33rd place finish in 25:51 at the Blugold Invitational on Oct. 4.
“Leading the charge is Joe Renier,” said Head Coach Dale Bahr. “He’s gone through a dramatic change since his freshman year and is running with a great amount of confidence. He understands that he’s capable of running with the top guys in the conference and I’m excited to see what he can go out and do.”
Newcomers Evan Jones (Fr., Pella, Iowa) and Thomas Knobbe (Fr., West Des Moines, Iowa) have proven themselves all season and will look to compliment Renier at the front. Leighton Becher (Jr., Woodbury, Minn.), Matt Carlson (Jr., Roseville, Minn.), Nate Hanson (So., Stillwater, Minn.), Sam Fransen (Sr., Jackson, Minn.), and Sam Renier (So., Cambridge, Minn.) round out Gustauvs’s top returners who will also be looking to make an impact.
The top 15 runners in each race will be honored as All-Conference selections, with runners finishing in places 16-to-25 receiving All-Conference Honorable Mention. The two team champions will also be honored and received their championship plaque.
Spectators are encouraged to attend the event and admission is free. All spectators are reminded to stay out of the runners’ way on the course, and no dogs, bikes or artificial noisemakers are allowed on the course.
The MIAC has a home page for the event, which will be the first place to find results, recaps, photos and more online following the conclusion of the championships. The page also includes course maps for both the men’s and women’s races, directions to Como Park Golf Course and other helpful links.
Bethel University is serving as the host institution for this year’s championship and athletic training services will be provided by MIAC partner Twin Cities Orthopedic. Bethel will be collecting used athletic shoes to be redistributed to those in need through the Soles4Souls organization.