The Augustana cross country teams are “hungry for success” this season. With three meets already under their belts, the runners are ready to take on their three biggest meets of the year — the NSIC conference, NCAA regionals and NCAA nationals.
On Sept. 6, the teams ran at Augustana’s own Twilight Meet, with the men’s team finishing second and the women’s team finishing third. Six augie men placed in the top 37. Senior Aaron Runge came in seventh place with a time of 19:19.34 and junior Austin Miller came in 22nd with a time of 19:52.40.
Eight from the women’s team finished in the top 30. Junior Nicolette Schmidt placed 17th with a time of 18:13.95 and sophomore Megan Means followed in 18th with a time of 18:14.26.
As the Vikings’ first official race of the season, the Twilight run allowed them to get some experience running as a team.
“We just wanted to ‘bust the rust’ and get a race underneath our legs,” senior Nathan Schroeder said.
Three weeks later on Sept. 28, the teams travelled to Minneapolis for the Roy Griak Invitational. Both the men’s and women’s teams took first place with many runners placing in the top 10. Runge earned first place with a time of 25:10.2, Senior Jesus Urtusuastegu followed in second with 25:17.6 and senior Nathan Schroeder came in sixth with 25:28.2.
For the women’s team, junior Claire Boersma finished second with a time of 22:28.2, junior Cait Savey took fourth with 22:41.3 and sophomore Hailey Waterfall placed ninth with 23.01.6. Schmidt followed in 10th with a close time of 23:01.7.
Coach Tracy Hellman said both teams gave really strong performances at the Griak meet.
“The men’s win was our fourth straight at that meet,” Hellman said. “Then our women broke the record for the lowest score at that meet.”
Schroeder said the teams accomplished their goal of placing in the top three for the Griak meet.
“We placed only 45 points off of first place too, which is good to see,” Schroeder said.
Two weeks ago on Oct. 12, the Vikings headed to Chicago, Illinois for the Lewis Conference Crossover Invitational. Augustana placed sixth out of the 73 teams invited. The men’s team placed third and the women’s second. Urtusuastegu came in 10th with a time of 25:35.7 and Runge followed in 11th with 25:37.4. For the women, Schmidt placed 10th with a time of 23:04.1 and Boersma placed 14th with 23:09.2.
The Vikings’ performance at the Lewis Invitational proved they can compete among other strong Division II schools.
“That told us as coaches that both teams are very strong right now, and both teams have strong opportunities to place high at the bigger meets coming up at the end of the year,” Hellman said.
Several runners from both teams also went to the Dordt Invitational on Oct. 12.
Both the men’s and women’s team have a strong dynamic, which makes training and competing more enjoyable for the runners.
“The culture’s really good and we’re all very motivated right now,” junior Claire Boersma said. “That makes everything a lot more fun and makes success when you have it more worth it.”
Fueled by the success of their recent meets, the Vikings are ready to meet the goals they set for their championship races. Hellman, Schroeder and Boersma all said the Vikings want to win their conference and regional meets and place fourth at nationals.
“The competitiveness is really strong in both teams. We have an edge right now,” Hellman said. “We’re very hungry. We really want to beat people and win.”
The women’s team has members who also want to earn the title of All American.
“At nationals, we want three or four All Americans, which is a really big deal to a lot of us,” Boersma said. “I would say seven or more of us have the goal to be an All American.”
The teams will travel to Wayne, Nebraska, on Oct. 26 for the NSIC conference championship. On Nov. 9, the Vikings will run at the NCAA regional meet in Joplin, Missouri, and on Nov. 23, the NCAA national meet in Sacramento, California.