ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Cross country places first at regionals, hits road for nationals


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photo by Alana Sesow

Some cross country runners have good days.


Others have successful weeks.


The Augustana men’s team, on the other hand, has had a near perfect season.


Claiming first place at four of five regular season meets, the men’s cross country team capped off the season with a clear first place finish at the NCAA regional tournament, earning them a golden ticket to the national championships in Evansville, Indiana.


Jesus Urtusuastegui led the team, placing fourth with a time of 31:48.76. Following close behind were all-region performers including Aaron Runge (sixth), Nick Larsen (seventh), Alec Kray (eighth), Logan Burns (18th) and Sean Heaton (19th).


The team scored 43 points, 113 total points ahead of second place team Missouri Southern State.


“We all knew that if we went on and ran how we were supposed to run, it was going to play out,” said sophomore runner Aaron Runge. “And it did.”


For the past nine years, the men’s team has placed first at the NSIC conference meet, in addition to a six year first place streak at regionals.


Assistant coach Scott Tanis said that the regional meet was the best performance this season.


“Saturday was the most complete day that we’ve had,” Tanis said. “This whole year, the pieces have been more and more put together. We always talk about being a November team, because no one remembers what you do in September. It’s been a slow building process to get to this point.”


With one of the largest teams in recent years with 20 men, Tanis said that the numbers aid in team building and creating a positive team atmosphere.


“We’re really deep,” Tanis said. “That’s where we can really outdo a lot of other teams. Our sixth guy was nineteenth place. A lot of teams have a single person that’s scoring more points than our top five all together.”


According to senior Logan Burns, tradition and team culture have also played a strong role this season.


“It’s pretty incredible to carry on the tradition, said Burns. “Being a senior, I’ve spent four years doing it, but that means that there was an entire generation [before me] that started the whole thing.”


The team hopes to improve upon their 12th place finish at the 2016 national championships in addition to earning individual all-American honors.


“We, as a team, have evolved over the season,” said Burns. “At the beginning of the season, we knew what we were capable of—we didn’t know just how capable we were.”

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