The Gustavus women’s Cross Country team had a strong race at the MIAC Conference Championships last Saturday, which were held at the Como Golf Course in Saint Paul. Heading into the meet the women were ranked fifth, but had a goal of attaining second in the Conference. The Gustie women outperformed their goal and won the title of Conference Champions for the second time in the 33-year history of Gustavus women’s Cross Country.
This achievement was preceded by a season of fast workouts, consistent lifting, core training and continual goal-setting. This season’s focus, which was key to their success at Conference, was the importance of the team aspect in both training and race strategy. Junior Rebecca Hare (Copy Editor), who placed fourth at the Conference meet, stressed the team aspect as crucial to the women’s successful races overall.
“Our team cohesion was the most influential factor in our success this season. Our ability to work together as a team—interacting on and off the course, supporting each other while we are racing, pacing each other, encouraging each other to make the move and keep going—all of these lend to a uniquely competitive yet supportive team,” Hare said.
By the time race day rolled around, the women knew that it was time to prove to themselves that all of their training and hard work had paid off. They were also very aware of where they were ranked and who their biggest challenge was.
“Everyone had to have a really good day for us to win because Saint Olaf is incredibly fast,” Sophomore Caitlin Fermoyle said.
The Gustavus women were able to give everything they had and run fast enough to secure a spot at the top. Hare finished fourth overall with a time of 22:29.4, winning her first All-Conference honor of her Gustavus Cross Country career, while Fermoyle finished fifth with a time of 22:33.0.
Seniors Kate Eggers and Beth Hauer finished in tenth (22:56.6) and twelfth (23:01.9), respectively while Senior Meredith Bache-Wiig ran an impressive 23:34.2, putting her in 26th place.
After receiving the news of their success, many of the women were completely taken by surprise.
“The Carleton coach came over to us and told us that we won. Because none of us could believe it, she went to double check and once it was confirmed, we all began jumping and dancing because we were so happy and proud of the work we’ve been putting in this season,” Hare said.
Fermoyle and Hare attribute much of their success this season to the support of their teammates, and to having a coach that makes their success a priority. Following the women’s Conference win, Head Coach Dale Bahr was named MIAC Coach-of-the-Year.
“For me, winning Coach-of- the-Year went hand in hand with the women’s performance. It was really more about how the team performed and how the women performed rather than anything I did,” Bahr said.
This weekend the women will be racing at the Regional meet. Bahr said his goal for the women is for them to place within the top two teams and qualify for Nationals.
“I’m really proud of what the women have been able to do. The Conference win was a great team effort. Both the men’s and women’s teams have worked hard this season, and taken the right steps forward to make progress,” Bahr said.
Fermoyle also noted the steps the team had taken to ensure success. “It’s been a year where everyone has stepped up and done what they need to do for the team. We’ve stayed positive, put in extra work, and inspired each other. Also it’s not just the people who score that have been putting in the work, it really is a team effort,” Fermoyle said.