NORTHFIELD, Minn. – The 2018 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) women's cross country season comes to a conclusion this Saturday when runners from across the Conference converge on the campus of St. Olaf College for the 2018 MIAC Championships.
Co-hosted by St. Olaf and St. Thomas, the 12-team women's 6K race will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday. This will be the third time the meet has been held at St. Olaf since 1991. Carleton - ranked No. 11 in the nation - enters the meet as the prohibitive favorite. The Knights were dominant in last year's race, placing seven runners among the top-12, and have shown little sign of slowing down this season. St. Olaf and St. Thomas have each received national attention this season as well and would be easy to pencil in as the Knights' top challengers.
However, with half of the Conference being regionally-ranked in October, there will be no shortage of competition for the crown. Carleton leads the Central Region in the latest USTFCCCA balloting, with St. Olaf, St. Thomas, and Saint Benedict not far behind at Nos. 4-6. Bethel and Macalester also received regional ranks at Nos. 9 and 10. Of course, Augsburg, Concordia, Gustavus, Hamline, Saint Mary's and St. Catherine would all like to crack that list as well, and a strong showing at the MIAC Championships would definitely help form a solid case for national consideration.
Five of last year's 15 All-Conference runners return to race this season, including Amanda Mosborg (Carleton-4th), Samantha Schnirring (Carleton-6th), Bryony Hawgood (St. Olaf-7th), Emma Greenlee (Carleton-8th), and Ruthie Boyd (Carleton-12th). Seven of the 10 honorable mention All-MIAC runners are also back in 2018, including Sara Ness (St. Thomas-16th), Jenny Launder (St. Thomas-18th), Mary Naas (St. Olaf-19th), Becca Wilkin (St. Thomas-21st), Marlee Yost-Wolff (Macalester-22nd), Amber Matzoll (St. Thomas-24th), and Morgan Pierce (Saint Benedict-25th).
Once the results of the 2018 MIAC Women's Cross Country Championship are tabulated and deemed final, a short awards ceremony will follow the conclusion of the men's race, which begins at noon. The top 15 runners will be honored as All-Conference selections, with runners finishing in places 16-to-25 receiving All-Conference Honorable Mention. The championship team will also be honored with the presentation of the MIAC Championship plaque.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
Fans who are not traveling to Northfield will have access to unofficial results soon after the action concludes courtesy of Fast Finish Results.
The MIAC has a championship home page for the event, that will serve as the online home of the meet. The championship page will include results and photos as they become available.
IN THE POLLS
Three MIAC teams are currently garnering national attention, with Carleton leading the way at No. 11 in the nation in the latest USTFCCCA Top 35 Poll. St. Olaf is ranked No. 33, while St. Thomas received four votes in the latest balloting.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Augsburg first-year Ann Sheely has been the Auggies' top finisher all season, leading the team in every race this year. Sheely posted a new personal-best, clocking in at 24:51.5 two weeks ago at the 25th annual Tori Neubauer Invitational in Ettrick, Wis.
Bethel first-year Malakai Holloway (Carver, Minn. | Eden Prairie) has come on strong to pace the Royals as of late, most recently running a personal-best time of 23:45.7 at the stacked Pre-National Meet in Oshkosh, Wis. earlier this month.
Carleton sophomore Amanda Mosborg (Edina, Minn.) has finished in the top-three three times and added one more top-10 finish in five races this season. She is also the top returning finisher from last year's MIAC Championship, having completed the race in 22:34.8, good for fourth overall.
Concordia junior Kara Andersen (Plymouth, Minn. | Armstrong) has finished among the top-20 competitors in four of five meets this season, most recently placing 16th at the UND Ron Pynn Classic two weeks ago. Andersen ran the 5K course in 19:08, which marks the second straight meet she has covered the track in less than 19:10.
Gustavus senior Lotus Schifsky (Prescott, Wis. | Trinity School at River Edge) opened the season with a first-place finish at the Crown Invitational and paced the Gusties again at the Warburg Invite, clocking in at 23:38.3 for 11th place.
Hamline sophomore Helen Dolan (Holliston, Mass.) continues to turn heads for the Pipers, most recently finishing 18th overall in a 262-runner field at the UW-La Crosse meet two weeks ago. Dolan ran the 6K course in 22:58.6.
Macalester senior Alia Benedict (Manchester, Mich.) has been a standout for the Scots all season and gotten better with each race. Benedict placed 36th at the Augsburg Invitational in September, followed up with a 20th-place showing at the St. Olaf Invitational, placed 15th at the Roy Griak, and claimed first at the St. Kate's Invitational.
Saint Benedict's Morgan Pierce (Mandan, N.D. | Saint Mary's Central) has had five top-20 finishes this year. She was the MIAC's top finisher at the Kollege Town Pre-National Meet two weeks ago in 20th-place with a time of 22:33 while competing against more than 350 other runners and 20 nationally-ranked teams.
St. Catherine's Riley McMahon (Union Grove, Wis.) continues to have an impressive first season as a Wildcat, placing third at the Seven Sisters meet, earning First-Team All-Meet honors and achieving the best individual placing at the race in school history. The sophomore placed third overall with a time of 23:13.
Saint Mary's Danielle Franke (Mounds View, Minn. | Irondale) toured the six-kilometer course in 24:32 to pace the Cards at the UW-La Crosse Tori Neubauer Invitational two weeks ago.
St. Olaf junior Bryony Hawgood (Harare, Zimbabwe | Arundel) continues to lead the Oles, finishing among the top-11 twice this season and once in the top-five.
St. Thomas first-year Olivia Moll (Hammond, Wis. | St. Croix Central) has led the Tommies in three of their five races this year, posting a pair of top-10 finishes, including a fifth-place result at the Luther All-American Invitational in September.