ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Sparked by three runners in the top-10 and all five scorers finishing among the top-20, the Carleton College women’s cross country squad claimed the team title at the 2013 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Championships contested at Como Park Golf Course. This was the Knights’ fifth title over the last decade, this one coming by besting a pair of nationally-ranked squads for an 18-point victory.
“We take great pride in competing in the MIAC,” said Carleton head coach Donna Ricks. “There are some very talented teams and athletes in the conference, and winning this title is a tremendous accomplishment, especially for this young Carleton team.”
This was Carleton’s sixth overall MIAC crown (1991, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2011, and 2013) and second over the last three years.
“This team is extremely dedicated, rising each morning bright and early for a 7 a.m. practice,” Ricks said. “That tells you a lot about the character of these individuals. I am proud of their determination and their commitment.”
The depth of Carleton—ranked No. 14 in the most recent USTFCCCA coach’s poll—allowed the Knights to tally 51 points, which was enough to hold off No. 23 St. Olaf (69 points) despite the Oles having the top two individual finishers. No. 30 Saint Benedict finished a distant third with 115 points.
As expected this quickly became a two-team race. The Oles’ Noelle Olson won the individual crown with a time of 21:49.5, good enough for a 41-second victory over teammate Jorden Johnson.
Carleton answered St. Olaf’s top duo with a 5-6-7 finish from Colette Celichowski (Jr./Shorewood, Minn./Minnetonka); Winona Rachel (Fy./Shakopee, Minn./Shakopee); and Ruth Steinke (So./Lima, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima). That trio posted times of 22:55.01, 23:01.1, and 23:06.6 respectively
Two more young Knights rounded out the scoring for the champs and beat their counterparts from across town to further pad Carleton’s advantage in the scoring. Kazia Mermal (Fy./Sherman Oaks, Calif/Notre Dame) ran to a 15th-place finish with a time of 23:33.6 and beat an Ole by less than a half-second to claim the last spot on the all-conference team.
Shira Kaufman (So./Leverett, Mass./Amherst Regional Academy) came across in 18th with a time of 23:42.2 and earned All-MIAC Honorable Mention. First-year Laura Nakasaka (Chevy Chase, Md./Bethesda-Chevy Chase) also received honorable mention as she placed 23rd with a time of 23:46.6
Sally Donovan (So./Minneapolis, Minn./South) and Allison Domingues (Fy./Plymouth, Minn./Robbinsdale Armstrong) crossed the line 28th and 29th with times of 23:53.4 and 23:54.3. That gave Carleton eight finishers among the top 30 in a field of 245 runners, and only one of those Knights—Celichowski—is a junior or senior.
“As excited as I am about this team and the promise of the future, it is also bittersweet as three of our seniors have raced their last MIAC meet. Aly Wieskal, Adrienne Bruder and Eva Kostyu have been tremendous role models and teammates, and I want to especially thank them for all that they have given this team,” said Ricks.
The conference champs will next compete in the Karhu Shoe race at St Olaf on Thursday, Nov. 7, before moving on to NCAA Central Regional competition on Saturday, Nov. 16. That race will also be held at St Olaf.
Colette Celichowski heads for the finish line at the 2013 MIAC Championships (photo by Nate Ryan)