The Concordia Women’s Cross Country team ended their season last Saturday, Nov. 12th at the NCAA Central Region Championships hosted at Wartburg College. The team finished in 11th place, their best finish since the 2006 season.
“Our result was really good, basically we ran extremely well all the way across the board,” said Coach Marv Roeske.
The team’s result was the best result Roeske could have asked for.
“We ran so well. We couldn’t have gotten any higher. Basically, we beat everybody there we could have beat, and that doesn’t always happen,” Roeske said. “So, it’s a good feeling knowing you raced your best at the end of the season and you defeated all the teams you really had a realistic chance of defeating, so that was nice.”
The girls finished higher than their pre-meet ranking of 13th, and placed better than fellow MIAC school Bethel; a team that finished above them at the MIAC Championships
Senior Caroline McLaughlin finished in 47th place, with a personal best time of 23:36.
“We were so excited with our 11th place finish,” McLaughlin said. “All the girls ran so well…The regional meet was a great way to finish off our season; all the girls ran with their hearts and it showed.”
Junior Kasey Petersen, who ran a 24:05, also had some thoughts on why the team finished so well.
“We also had Liz Hanson and Caroline McLaughlin get personal bests, and Caroline finished in the top 50,” she said. “I think those factors were really key in our good placing.”
Roeske laid out a goal for the girls to aim for ahead of the meet.
“Before the regional meet, I told these girls, ‘if you guys can finish, if our first runner can race at 23:30, and our seventh runner at 25:00, if we can get all seven of you in that 90 second gap, we’re going to have a great meet.”
The team did the coach one better, with McLaughlin’s time of 23:36, the rest of the team fell within an 89 second gap with a time 25:05.
“They almost exactly fell in that time gap,” Roeske said. “That was maybe just a stroke of luck or maybe knowing where I thought we could run. But, I encouraged them to run, and it kind of happened and it was kind of neat.”
McLaughlin was happy with the result of the last race of her career.
“It was an amazing way to finish off the eleven years I have been doing cross country for,” she said
Coach Roeske cited their excitement and how well the team handled themselves in the meet.
“They were thrilled. They finished a place higher than they did last year because it was a vastly different group. We only had two girls running this year at regions who ran there last year. It was kind of a novice group when it came to the regional competition, and maybe that helped them. It didn’t seem to, they were really loose and relaxed going into it, which can be a good thing.”
The team had shown they could perform well with two first place finishes and one third place finish earlier this season. Petersen was satisfied with the result and season as well.
“Overall, the season has been phenomenal,” Petersen said. “Competitively, we did outstanding. It just seemed like everyone kept progressing throughout the season. It can be easy to just reach a certain level of running competitively and sort of plateau, but our team kept improving every week, and I really applaud all of the girls and the coaches for all of their hard work.”
Roeske also made mention of the team atmosphere regarding McLaughlin’s personal best.
“Caroline, she ended her season, ended her career, with her best race ever, “Roeske said. “When you’re senior captain [and] can do that, that’s just really a neat feeling. Her team thinks quite fondly of her so that was pretty thrilling for them. If everybody could do it, [it] would sure be more delightful, but we know that’s not how it works in athletics so it’s really sweet when it does happen.”
McLaughlin had some final thoughts on her career as well.
“My favorite thing about being on the cross country team…there are so so many things. Our cross country team is so tight knit; I absolutely love the girls. Marv, Loads and Garrick are great coaches who build a relaxing, fun, but hard working atmosphere. Everyday I look forward to four o’clock because I get to run with such amazing people,” she said.