For the Augustana University 2020-2021 track and field teams, a string of provisional performance breakthroughs in Kansas on Friday and Saturday were followed by all-around dominant provisional performances at the South Dakota State University Indoor Classic on Saturday.
On Friday at the Sixth Annual Indoor Gorilla Classic in Pittsburg, Kansas, the Augustana distance medley relay teams turned out a couple of performances that placed the teams well under NCAA Division II Championship provisional qualifying standards.
“We definitely came to Kansas with the goal of getting a national qualifier for our [distance medley relay] team,” said sophomore runner Callin Naddy. “It was just kind of ‘run as fast as you can, and that should be good.’”
In the relay, the first legs consist of a 1200-meter run, 400-meter, 800-meter and 1600-meter run. The Augustana quartet of Patty Jo English, Sydney Mudgett, Naddy and Nicolette Schmidt, in that order, broke the school record held since 2018 with a commanding time of 11:39.08.
“Our women’s distance success is a cumulation of experience, hard work and believing in the system,” said head track and field coach Tracy Hellman.
The men’s distance medley relay followed the women’s breakthrough performance with a qualifying time of their own. Through the effort of Austin Miller, Noah Melton, Tiegen Lindner and Evan Johnson, the men placed third with their relay in a time of 9:55.65, seven seconds quicker than the provisional qualifying benchmark.
On Saturday at the Ichabod Invitational in Topeka, Kansas, the Augustana women and men put their spikes to the track and once again met a series of qualifying marks.
With a time of 4:56.04, Naddy qualified in the mile run, an NSIC Conference best.
“I broke 5:00.00, which has been a goal of mine for like four years,” Naddy said of her performance. “So to do that and provisionally qualify individually, especially on tired legs and an imperfect race and just not being super comfortable in the mile after so long off, is super exciting,” Naddy said.
But the successes of individual team don’t end there.
In the 3,000-meter run, English, a sophomore, edged into provisional qualifying marks with a time of 9:57.13, while Schmidt, a junior, finished with a strong time of 9:49.14.
“Coach [Scott] Tanis has done a tremendous job training them and getting them ready to compete,” Hellman said. “Tanis has trained our women to a very high level, and it’s a huge credit to him getting them prepared.”
On the men’s side at the Ichabod Invitational, Lindner, a senior, dominated in the 800-meter run, qualifying with a NSIC Conference best time of 1:52.74.
Alec Kray bested the university’s 5,000-meter record by more than eight seconds, in a time of 14:10.51 — a top conference time that sits 15th in the nation.
“The men are better than we were last year, in my opinion, and we had a great men’s team last year,” Hellman said. “We are excited to see what we can do when we enter championship season.”
Four-hundred miles north in Brookings, the Augustana men’s and women’s track and field athletes took on SDSU, North Dakota State University, and the University of North Dakota, among others, at the SDSU Indoor Classic.
Winning the 3,000-meter run was senior Rebekah Rairdon, with a qualifying time of 9:52.53, followed by her sister and fellow senior Rachel Rairdon who finished in a close third with a time of 9:53.30.
Redshirt freshman Mia Salas took fourth in the event, with sophomore Megan Means in fifth. Salas and Means, like the Rairdon sisters, also achieved provisional times in the event.
In the 800-meter run, freshman Caroline Sudbeck narrowly edged out SDSU junior Tori Glazier and UND senior Amanda Robbins for third place, with a time of 2:15.46, just one second shy of the qualifying benchmark.
On the men’s side, the team overtook NDSU, UND, Minnesota State-Moorhead and Black Hills State University, placing second overall.
“We have very talented athletes on the men’s team that can cover a lot of different events,” said Hellman. “The same can be said of the women’s team.”
Finishing second in the 3,000-meter run at the indoor classic was junior Matt Steiger, followed closely by sophomore Colten Brand, in a time of 8:23.26 and 8:24.04, respectively.
The times place the runners in fourth and fifth in the conference.
In the 5,000-meter run, junior Henry Klitzke took a strong third in a time of 14:25.39 — less than two seconds shy of Parker Matthew out of Black Hills State, who took first in the event. Klitzke now holds the second fastest time in the event in the NSIC Conference.
“I think this weekend showed us that we have gotten one step closer to our goal of taking home the conference title,” said Steiger. “With two more weeks of solid training and one more track meet, both the distance squad and the sprinting squad will be fully tested and ready to go for conference.”
The second-place finish of the men’s 4×400-meter relay, comprised of sophomores Jed Dooyema, Lawrence Lokonobei, Matthew Schoessow and senior Ryan Sully, as well as junior Tyl Woelber’s second-place finish in the triple jump.
“We have very high achieving, highly motivated athletes, and we also have experience on our teams,” said Hellman. “This has been a year where I have really appreciated the opportunity that we have today.”
Next week the Augustana women and men return to Brookings for a last chance meet showdown to complete the regular season.