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Going the distance to cross the finish line

September 20, 2007

They can be seen around town or on campus. They can be spotted in groups of many or by their lonesome. They are out there rain or shine, night or day. They are running. Not because someone is chasing them. Not because they are leaving somewhere nor heading somewhere. They are just running.

However, they do run with a purpose. They are the dedicated athletes that make up the 2007-2008 cross country team.

The 50 to 70 miles that these men and women run a week has already begun to pay off, as the season opened with both the mens and womens teams participating at the St. Olaf Invitational on Saturday.

Leading the way for the Falcon women’s team was sophomore All American Becca Jordahl who was crowned athlete of the week of the WIAC and finished first in the race beating a close opponent by only one footstep. Jordahl’s title winning time was 22:21, just 21 seconds from the school record.

Another leader was team captain Maria Michaud, who finished first and 17th respectively in the 6,000 meter individual race.

Leading the way for the men’s team with top performances in the 8,000 meter individual race was sophomore Chad Ernst, who’s time of 26:13 earned him 21st place as well as a new personal record.

Freshman Rich Mark, who, remarkably, in his first collegiate race finished 27th with a time of 26:58.

A notable performance was that of senior team captain Andrew Reckard, who’s race time was just shy of new personal record.

However, the mens team has had three of its five top runners take the season off, providing them with an entire year of training.

This will allow the current runners to get more experience under their belts as they build towards what the team hopes is an extremely big season next year.

Following the women’s 12th of 25 and the men’s 17th of 27 finishes in overall team points, first year head coach Keven Syverson had much praise for his team’s performances.

“Overall, I feel pretty good about the way we raced as a squad,” Syverson said. “I was especially pleased with the way every runner finished hard out there. We had some real gutsy races.”

The outlook following the first competition is similar for both teams.

“In each case, the runners in the one and two spots have stepped up and made themselves known,” Syverson said. “But there are still several athletes in the hunt for the three, four, five and six spots.”

With this in mind, Syverson has some goals set for the teams.

“Realistically, our women should be working towards being 5th or 6th in the conference leading up to a top 10 regional finish,” he said. “On the flipside, out of nine teams in the conference, our Men should be sixth or higher.”

Next up for the Falcons is the Eau Claire Blugold Open, 5 p.m. Sept. 21.

With the season on it’s way you can only expect to see more of these dedicated athletes as they run their miles.