‘Bad luck’ leads to disappointing finish; Hauge earns 2nd All-America honor
Augustana men’s cross-country finished the 2016 season on a note out of tune with the rest of its season, placing 12th at the NCAA Championships held in St. Leo, Fla. Nov. 19 despite being ranked in Division II’s top-ten for most of the year.
But a lot of the things that went wrong—specifically, injuries and illnesses—were not things that the Vikings could control.
“From the outside looking in, you think, ‘12th place is not that bad—12th place out of the entire nation,’” senior Keegan Carda said. “But we had such a history of success at the national level that when you get 12th place it doesn’t really cut it anymore.”
Senior Nathan Hauge finished 38th overall in a time of 31:15.5 to become an All-American for the second time. He finished 35th at the NCAA Championships in 2014.
“It was a very strong season,” head coach Tracy Hellman said. “We were down in our women’s [team], and that was disappointing but we hopefully can get back up where we belong. Our men had a good year, just ran into some bad luck at the end.”
Carda contracted pneumonia ten days before nationals and was still feeling the effects of it at the meet. But he decided to conclude his Augustana career with one last race, knowing it wouldn’t be his best showing.
“That was the longest race of my entire life,” Carda, who finished 223rd, said. “Looking back, I’m glad I actually ran the race—it’s a bit of closure when you come back [to school] just for one season. It was nice to finish it out and run my last race.”
Two-time All-American Glen Ellingson battled through side cramps to place 52nd, a bittersweet finish after an illustrious year that saw him win his second individual NSIC title and place third at the Central Region Championships.
“We just had a lot of things go wrong all at once,” Ellingson, a senior, said. “Optimistically, we can say we still got 12th with everything that went wrong, but when the entire season is built around doing well at nationals it can be depressing.”
As further evidence of poor luck, senior John Klecker, who had been one of the Vikings’ top runners this season, finished 124th after suffering a spinal stress fracture which hampered his training in the weeks leading up to nationals.
Carda said the finish was not a reflection of the success Augustana enjoyed this season, including its eighth-straight NSIC title and fifth-straight Central Region championship.
It was the Vikings eighth-straight national showing, and the 12th place finish broke the team’s seven-year streak of finishing in the nation’s top-10.
Carda said there is a lesson in the disappointing showing.
“I think a disappointing performance makes you think about how not everything is going to go your way when you want it to and how that’s just a part of running,” Carda said. “It makes you think of the times you have had success and makes you appreciate those times more.”
Though the Vikings ultimately left Florida without the result they wanted, Ellingson said the disappointment allowed the team to have a bonding moment for and a time for personal reflection.
“I think it definitely helped me grow more as a person,” Ellingson said. “If we would have done well, I would have been really happy right now, but having something like [this] happen to us pushed our team to have conversations about what it means to run with each other. I think it did make us appreciate our time we’ve spent here more.”