Sunday, September 08, 2013

MIAC Mens XC Preview

A year ago, the St. Olaf men's cross country team topped the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). The Oles won the 2012 MIAC Championships by 43 points, placing four runners in the top 14, five in the top 20 and all seven in the top 30.  Junior Grant Wintheiser was the MIAC's individual champ. 
Six points separated he next three teams in the standings.  with St. Thomas in second with 97 points, Bethel third at 101, and Saint John's fourth with 103. 
As the 2013 season begins, optimism for the MIAC's teams is evident outside the league as well, with national and regional preseason rankings for several conference teams. The defending champion Oles start the season ranked No. 15 in Division III, with Saint John's joining the Oles in the poll at No. 30. The Carleton men also received votes in the poll, but finished just outside the top 35.
There were four MIAC teams to earn Central Region rankings, again starting with the Oles at No. 2 behind only Central (Iowa). St. Olaf is the defending Central Region champion. The Johnnies are right behind their MIAC counterpart at No. 3, while St. Thomas checks in at No. 6 and Carleton is ranked No. 10 in the region. The MIAC and IIAC tied with four ranked teams apiece.
The only new name on the coaching front is Adam Frye, who was named the co-head coach at Hamline this summer. He joins MIAC veteran Paul Schmaedeke, who is beginning his milestone 25th season leading the Pipers.
Other than Frye, all of the MIAC coaches have been at their current posts for at least five seasons. Saint John's Tim Miles is also celebrating a milestone - he's the dean of the MIAC coaches and starting his 35th season with the Johnnies. Schmaedeke is the second-longest tenured coach, and the third-longest, Dennis Barker of Augsburg , is celebrating his 20th season leading the Auggies.
Who's back for the defending champions at St. Olaf? Almost everyone. Two of the Oles' key contributors graduated in Chris Massey and Tim Lillehaugen, but the rest of the lineup returns, starting with Wintheiser. In addition to his MIAC win, he also was the Central Region champ and he finished third at the NCAA Division III meet. Wintheiser enters as a favorite to defend his MIAC title, and compete for a national championship as well. Fellow All-MIAC runners Brian Saksa and Jake Campbell are also back.
St. Thomas benefitted from the emergence of sophomore Keaton Wendroth a year ago, and he enters his junior season as one of the MIAC's most talented runners. Fellow All-Conference honoree Ethan Armbuster returns, as does fellow junior C.J. Seifert, to give Head Coach Pete Wareham a talented nucleus.
Bethel graduated one star in Zach Haskins, but returns another in junior Matt Berens, who was third at the MIAC meet in 2012. Berens also started 2013 strong, winning MIAC Athlete-of-the-Week honors to open the season. Sophomore Matthew Poss and junior Harrison Hitt are also back for Bethel this season.
Saint John's returns everyone from last year's fourth-place team, starting with senior John Subialka, who was an All-MIAC runner. Fellow senior Willie Versen is also back, along with sophomore Thomas Feichtinger, who had a breakout track season as a freshman and hopes to carry that over to cross country. Hamline graduated  a pair of All-MIAC runners in Brendan Ruter and Nate Dobbins, but hopes to reload with senior co-captain Colin Rogers, sophomore Nathan Rock and junior Chris Gill.
Carleton returns two if its top runners, starting with senior star Marcus Huderle, who is a two-time All-MIAC selection. All-MIAC Honorable Mention senior Guthrie Cunningham also returns, as does classmate Jacob Hoerger. Saint Mary's will also try to replace a pair of talented runners in Jake Traxler and Peter Borash, but junior Aaron Haley will be back to lead the Cardinals again after an All-MIAC season in 2012. Senior John Soucheray and sophomore Jase Pater will add to SMU's nucleus in 2013.
Macalester lost its top runner from a year ago in Andy Keefe, but returns a pair of talented juniors, Joe Giamberdino and Dylan Saul. Concordia senior Ryan Sederquist started the season with a second-place finish last weekend. Junior Henry Dobbs is also back.
Juniors Ahmed Nur and Luke Iverson are back for the Auggies. Gustavus has two of its top runners back, sophomore Leighton Becher and senior Joe Reiner.
CIRCLE THESE DATESThere are several races of interest throughout the season. St. Olaf will host the St. Olaf Invitational, which will feature the Oles, Carleton, Gustavus and Macalester, on September 21. A week later, on Sept. 28, Augsburg, Bethel, Concordia, Hamline and Macalester will run at the University of Minnesota's Roy Griak Invitational. 
On October 4, Carleton, Gustavus, Macalester, Saint John's, Saint Mary's, and St. Olaf will travel to Wisconsin to run at the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Open. Finally, most of the league will compete against one another on Oct. 19 at the UW-La Crosse Jim Drews Invitational in La Crosse, Wis. Augsburg, Carleton, Concordia, Gustavus, Hamline, Macalester, Saint John's, Saint Mary's, St. Olaf and St. Thomas will all be in the field in the final big tune-up prior to the MIAC meet on November 2 at St. Paul's Como Park Golf Course, with the men's 8K race scheduled to start at 3:15 PM. 
A CLOSER LOOKThis year, the MIAC scoreboard will include men's cross country events, with links to results to see how MIAC teams fared in each race throughout the season. Also, download the MIAC mobile app to have all the information with you anywhere you travel. Also, you can connect to the conference on its FacebookTwitter and YouTube pages for updates and interaction all season long.

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