By Paul Langan
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The SJU cross country team is preparing for its most important meet of the season this weekend.

The players and coaches are heading down to St. Olaf on Oct. 28 for the MIAC Championship after many years of the race being in St. Paul.

Head Coach Tim Miles was surprised about the change.

“I ran on the Como course as long ago as my sophomore year in 1973,” Miles said. “I think that we are going to have a good alternative both this year and in the future.”

The team wants to improve both for the meet and in the future.

“It’s all about training and we could always train better,” Miles said.

Coach Miles believes that it is better to run a smart race rather than giving 100 percent. He praised his teams’ work ethic and focus on the task at hand.

Senior runner Kevin Dudley wants to go above and beyond.

“Goals can be a limit sometimes,” Dudley said.

As the team is getting ready for the conference meet they keep in mind that they have gotten second the past two years behind St. Olaf and use that as motivation.

“We expect to be in that top tier with St. Olaf and St. Thomas. Carleton will also be really competitive,” Dudley said.

SJU senior Matthew Burgstahler has had a strong season to lead the Johnnie runners including a fourth-place overall finish at the Luther Invitational in September.

“[As a team] we always try to do something called ‘Johnnies in the smoke’ where we start off with a good pace and start moving up through the field,” Burgstahler said.

The runners often face challenges and unknown variables such as weather and course conditions.

“Running is a big mental battle,” Burgstahler said. “To stay positive throughout a five-mile race is often challenging.”

He expressed his excitement about the upcoming meet.

“I think we have gotten better at almost every meet,” Burgstahler said.
This Saturday, an automatic bid to the Division III Championship is on the line.