Augustana cross country proved their dominance once again, this time it was to take home both men’s and women’s NSIC conference championships.
The No. 3 nationally-ranked women’s team started the day by winning its first conference title since 2014. The No. 4 nationally-ranked men then went on to sweep the top-five spots, placing a perfect score of 15. Senior Austin Miller led the way and broke the course record.
“I’m very pleased with our team efforts today at the NSIC Championships,” the director of Track and Field/Cross Country Tracy Hellman said. “We had a goal to win both titles, and we certainly had some impressive efforts from many athletes on the team.”
On top of the team titles, the Vikings had the NSIC Newcomer of the Year in freshman Ryan Hartman. Hellman was also awarded NSIC Coach of the Year on both the men’s and women’s side.
“What I am most excited about is our team spreads. Our women’s 20 seconds and men’s 22 seconds from one through five in championship meets is really impressive,” Hellman said. “Austin had one of his best races of his career. He had a disappointing race down in Arkansas and was determined to bounce back. That is a great thing for our team to see.”
The Viking women ran a near-perfect race, placing its top-five within the top six, taking spots two through six. Their average time was 21:15.12.
“The women had a mission of bringing the conference title back to Augie and were impressive in their race,” Hellmen said.
Junior Patty Jo English earned a runner-up finish at 21:41, with junior Megan Means close behind, placing third in 21:42.10.
Nicolette Schmidt placed fourth in the field, running down the chute in a time of 21:50. Senior sisters Rebekah and Rachel Rairdon claimed the fifth and sixth places running almost identical times with running 22:01.10 and 22:01.20 respectively.
On the men’s side, Miller finished in a time of 24:48.70 to lead the Vikings to a perfect score with the second-place team, UMary, 68 points behind Augustana. Hartman earned a runner-up finish running a time of 25:01.10.
Junior’s Henry Klitzke and Kray Person placed third and fourth running 25:03.40 and 25:05.20 respectively. Sophomore Colten Brand placed fifth with a time of 25:08.30 to round out the scorers.
The top five runners for each team earn points for the team, so even though he didn’t earn points, senior Evan Johnson placed sixth to give the Vikings the top six runners in the entire conference.
The men’s runners who placed second through sixth all finished within nine seconds of each other, proving that the No.4 ranked team in the nation has the depth and strength to get it done nationally.
The runners in Wayne were shown great support, with a group of supporters covered in face paint running alongside with swords, flags and Viking horns, doing anything they can to help motivate those competing.
In total, Augustana had 15 All-Conference runners, eight from the women and seven from the men.
“As exciting as it was, we know there is better racing ahead at the NCAA Central Regional and the NCAA National meet awaits,” Hellman added. “As always it is a great day to be a Viking!”
The Vikings will race again for the Central Regional on November 6, hosted by Missouri Southern.
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