Track competes at NCAA national championships

Augustana Track and Field sent 10 athletes to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama on March 11 – 13. After a weekend of personal bests and All-American awards, the men’s team was No. 33 out of 44 teams, and the women’s team placed No. 12 out of 48 teams for their highest placement in the program’s history.

“We are very pleased with the results of the national championships,” Augustana head coach Tracy Hellman said in a release. “All of our athletes performed at a very high level, and we finished the indoor campaign with multiple All-Americans and personal bests.”

Senior Austin Miller qualified for the final races in both the men’s mile and 800-meter with qualifying times of 4:06.86 and 1:52.12 respectively. He then placed seventh in the mile and eighth in the 800-meter.

“I don’t think many people thought that I could make both finals since it was such a tight turnaround between events,” Miller said. “I pride myself on always racing to win, so at first seventh and eighth place in those events was a tough pill to swallow.”

Miller said it took a lot of physical and mental energy to prepare and compete at a national level.

“I am really proud of how my teammates and I dealt with the stress of being at an NCAA championship,” Miller said. “It has been a long time since we have been able to compete at a track meet of this caliber because of COVID restrictions. It felt good to get back out there and compete against the best runners in Division II.”

In the No. 4 men’s high jump heptathlon, junior Tyl Woelber, placed first with 2.03m and 831 points.

The women’s medley team placed No. 4 out of 10 teams with a time of 11:35.55. Running was sophomore Patty Jo English, senior Sydney Mudgett, sophomore Cami Streff, and junior Nicolette Schmidt. The team received All-American honors and set a new school record.

“We all went out there and gave everything we had for this team and came together for each other,” Schmidt said. “You could really feel the team energy during the relay, and I’m beyond proud of how we competed.”

English also placed No. 5 in the women’s mile with a time of 4:57.00. 

“I am most proud of the way I didn’t let the experience of other runners in the field scare me away from my goals,” English said. “Especially in the final half of the mile final, I am proud of the way I dug deep to have a good finish.”

While junior Callin Naddy did not qualify for the final race in the women’s one mile, she said she was proud to see the success of the team as a whole.

“It’s kind of hard to be proud of a last place finish. On my cool down, I was obviously super disappointed in that and then not getting a chance at the DMR,” Naddy said. “But I’m trying to keep it in perspective. I qualified as an individual which is a huge accomplishment for me right now. So I just want to continue this momentum and keep qualifying or at least being close to qualifying in outdoor and cross country and just the rest of the seasons.”

First Team All-Americans included sophomore Elizabeth Schaefer in the pentathlon, Woelber in the heptathlon, senior Mearah Miedema in the high jump, English in the mile and distance medley relay, Schmidt in the mile and distance medley relay, Mudgett in the distance medley relay, Streff in the distance medley relay and Miller in the mile and 800-meter.

Second Team All-Americans included sophomore Lawrence Lokonobei in 60-meter hurdles and senior Meagan Schenk in the mile.

“Walking away from the weekend with All-Americans in seven events is absolutely remarkable,” English said. “What’s more, bringing 11 athletes to the national meet is close to the largest group we have ever had, and that isn’t including the talented individuals we left back home. I’m confident that Augustana Track will be bringing 10-plus athletes to every national meet from here on out.”

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