‘Business as usual’

Men’s and women’s cross country teams earn top honors at Roy Griak

REBEKAH TUCHSCHERER

rjtuchscherer16@ole.augie.edu

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796 runners. 82 teams. Two top-place finishes.

Coming off two weeks of back-to-back tournaments, Augustana has managed to clinch two major titles at the Roy Griak Invitational, with the men’s team placing first and the women coming in fourth.

With five top-ten finishers, the titles are well-earned after the Vikings’ major sweep at the Woody Greeno Invitational, where both teams placed first in their divisions.

Redshirt freshman Alec Kray led the men’s pack with a third-place finish and time of 26 minutes and nine seconds.

He was followed by sophomore Aaron Runge in fourth, junior Nick Larsen in sixth, and sophomore Jesus Urtusuastegui in ninth. 

The men outran 40 teams in Division II, including rival University of Sioux Falls.

USF clocked in 12 places behind the Augie women, with 40 other teams present.

On the women’s side, junior Mackenzie Kelly managed an impressive fourth place finish with a time of 22 minutes and 49 seconds. 

“Something we never do is race one weekend and then go straight to racing the next weekend,” Kray said. “So a lot of us during the week were pretty sore. We had a couple rough workouts, but … when we got there, it was just business as usual.”

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Starting their pack running strong for the season, the Augustana men aim to add a sixth consecutive win to their stack of regional titles.

Claiming the men’s regional titles for the past five years and the conference title for eight, ‘business as usual’ is no small feat. 

Head coach Tracy Hellman notes that the roster rolls in as the largest in his Augustana coaching history, consisting of 20 men and 19 women.

“We have the most talented group that we have had [in recent years],” Tracy said. “So that has aided in our practices being very competitive.”

Kray also credits the men’s recent success to their tight pack-running.

“Being such a deep team, it’s really cool that we don’t have to work on necessarily getting guys up from the way back,” Kray said. “We’re all so close to each other that our one, two, three, four, five can be within 30 seconds of each other almost every race.”

However, Kelly argued that much of the team’s impressive record arises from summer training and team camp.

“A lot of people do say that [cross country] is an individual sport, but I would completely disagree,” Kelly said. “It’s a team sport. We’re all  trying to go to nationals together, we do workouts together, we train together and we eat together”.

Kray also mentioned the high morale of the team, contending that invitational wins help in the long game.

“Short term, it’s great,” Kray said. “It’s a good confidence booster for us, [and] a good statement to all the conference teams. I’m sure that the regional will take a look at us, now that we’re a real contender.”

With the NSIC Championships just three weeks away, the teams aim to continue their winning streaks all the way to nationals.

“When you are so close with your teammates, you race for them and want to do well for them,” Kelly said. You’re not just racing for yourself anymore, and that’s why you give more when you race—because it’s for the person next to you.”

 

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