ST. PAUL, Minn. – The 2012 MIAC Championship was extremely close, with just three points separating the top two teams and the top three all within 11 points of one another. Gustavus emerged on top, edging No. 13 St. Olaf and defending champion No. 23 Carleton to claim the MIAC team title. Meanwhile, St. Thomas’ Taylor Berg surged ahead in the second half of the race to win the MIAC individual title.
The race was nearly too close to call as the Gusties, Oles and Knights were crossing the finish line. It looked like St. Olaf had the early advantage, with two of the top three finishers, but Gusties came in fourth, fifth and 10th, and then Carleton grabbed four of the spots between nine and 15. When the dust settled, Gustavus’ team total of 57 points was good for the championship, as Coach Dale Bahr’s squad had four of the top 12 runners and another just outside the top 25.
“I told the ladies before the race that this is about you guys running as a team, and doing it for the seniors,” Bahr said. “They responded with an amazing race. It was so fun to watch that I am truly speechless.”
For the first time in the history of the Gustavus women’s cross country program, four Gusties finished inside the top 15 to earn All-Conference honors.
The Oles had six of the top 24 runners in the field, but came up three points short of their second title in three years with a team total of 60 points. Carleton placed six in the top 21, but with the Knights’ top runner finishing ninth, they were forced to settle for third with a score of 68 points. St. Thomas came in a distant fourth at 102 points, and there was another big gap between the Tommies and Saint Benedict, as the Blazers claimed the final spot in the top five with a total of 170.
Berg was locked with the top four runners midway through the race, but found another gear over the second half of the 6K course to pull into the lead and claim the individual title. Berg, a St. Thomas senior, came in with a winning time of 21:39.3 and edged a pair of St. Olaf runners – Jordan Johnson and Emma Lee – for the individual title. Johnson was the runner-up with a time of 21:54.4, while Lee took third at 22:01.0.
From there, a pair of Gusties crossed the finish line with Rebecca Hare taking fourth at 22:29.4 and Caitlin Fermoyle rounding out the top five at 22:33.0. Berg’s teammate Erin Statz finished sixth with a time of 22:40.0, just barely edging out Hamline’s Maria Theisen by less than a second (22:40.8). Augsburg’s Lauren Rice was eighth at 22:43.6, Ruth Steinke was Carleton’s first runner in at 22:55.9 and another Gustie – Kate Eggers – finished out the top 10 with a time of 22:56.
Saturday’s victory marks the second conference championship in the 33-year history of Gustavus women’s cross country.
“The women are truly team runners,” Bahr said. “They went out and competed for each other. Their performance speaks volumes of what you can do when you do it as a team. To beat four teams that we had not beaten all year at the conference meet was incredible to watch, I can’t say enough about the women and their performance.”