Track heads for Alabama
Three Augustana track and field members are trading South Dakota’s snow-spotted plains for Alabama rain.
Sophomore Olivia Montez Brown, senior Glen Ellingson and sophomore Josh Barrows head to the University of Alabama in Birmignham. to compete at the 2017 NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 9-11.
“We feel really good about all three,” assistant coach Greg Binstock said. “They’re all competing at a high level right now. There’s a thought that they can be first-team All-Americans.”
This is Montez Brown’s second trek to nationals and a chance at her second All-American. As she finished sixth in the heptathlon at last year’s outdoor nationals.
“I don’t want to overspeak and say that one has a possibility for a national championship,” Binstock said, “But, you know, Olivia is right there with the leaders already.”
Montez Brown ranked 15th in the long jump and third in the pentathlon, with little distance between her and her competitors.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” she said. “I mean, between first and fourth there is less than 100 points between us, and that’s nothing. So, we’ll have to bring out it all to win.”
While this is Ellingson’s first showing at track and field nationals, he’s attended cross-country nationals four times.
He is seeded 16th in the 3,000 meters and 11th in the 5,000 meters.
Ellingson was named the NSIC Male Track Athlete of the Year for his indoor performance.
“I’m not going to try to do much different,” Ellingson said. “I mean, I’m in good shape; I guess I just have to trust that. Preparing is hard because there’s a couple of guys up front who are just so good, so it’ll be tough to beat them.”
Ellingson assumes a wide distace will open up between racers, as a 30-second gap separates the first-and last-ranked runners.
“Since this is going to be such a spread out race your pace matters more,” Ellingson said. “I don’t want to stay ahead with the top guys, because I’ll slow down more toward the end. But I also don’t want to stay with the back guys, because I’ll never make up that ground. My plan is just to try to hang around in the pack and just make some moves at the end.”
As a senior, this could be Ellingson’s last chance to be an All-American, but he still has the potential for the upcoming outdoor track season.
Because this is Barrows’ first trip to nationals, he’s having a hard time measuring the competition.
“I’ve always ran against people in the NSIC or surrounding Division I schools,” Barrows said. “I really have no gauge for the level of competition, so I’m just going to go out.”
He’s ranked 10th in the 800, only a few milliseconds from the eighth ranked runner. He predicted that a pack of runners vying for the last of the eight spots will develop midway during the race.
“I know I can run pretty well,” Barrows said. “I know the rest of the runners are amazing athletes, but it’s just going to be whoever goes for it that day, and I can only hope that that’s me.”
Strategy-wise, Binstock said they’re going to run like it’s another race.
“Don’t have these overly big expectations,” Binstock said. “If you run with your competitors, you’ll do well and place high. So, essentially, just keep doing what you’ve been doing. Sometimes you have to forget about times and just run the race.”
After wrapping up the indoor season, outdoor season will commence. Augustana’s first bout will be an historic duel against University of Sioux Falls.
“We haven’t been involved in a duel for many, many years, so that’s really exciting,” Binstock said. “We’re trying to create that rivalry. They have good programs, so I think it will be a pretty competitive meet.”
The dual will be held April 9 at the Lillibridge Track on USF’s campus.