The 2013 cross-country season closed out on a high note with both the men and women’s teams clinching spots in the top five at the NCAA Championships held in Spokane, Wash. on Nov. 23.
The men took third place at nationals, the highest finish in program history. The women continued their success with their third consecutive top-five finish, exceeding expectations to take fifth.
Senior Paul Yak led the way with an individual sixth place finish overall, the highest in Augustana cross-country history.
“We were extremely happy with how both teams performed at the NCAA Nationals,” head coach Tracy Hellman said. “Anytime you can place top five in the nation with both programs, that is a sign of a successful season.”
The Viking men were ranked fifth going into the national competition, and the women sat at 14th. Hellman said the teams were confident they could perform higher than their rankings predicted.
Hellman said the highlight of the national competition was watching the teams run their best team race of the year.
“That was a huge positive thing for our program,” Hellman said.
Senior Kristin Brondbo went into her last cross-country race motivated to go out with a bang.
“There was no way I was having a bad race,” she said. “Besides, I knew I was in good shape so that kept me relaxed and confident.”
Kristin said she was pleased with reaching her goal of placing in the top 10.
“Overall, both teams did extremely well,” Brondbo said. “This is a great accomplishment when thinking of the level of competition in the race and that Augustana is a small private college.”
Fellow cross-country senior Tom Karbo, who finished 11th overall, said he was extremely prepared for his last race as a Viking.
“It’s hard not to be motivated in a national competition, but since it was my last one I was extra motivated,” he said. “I was also motivated because we had the chance to get the best team result Augie has ever had in cross-country.”
Yak helped Augustana bring home the hardware. With his finish, Hellman said Yak “cemented his place as one of the all-time greats here at Augie.”
Brondbo said she was not surprised by Yak’s performance.
“He has been so consistent this year, and deserved to be paid off with a sixth place finish,” Brondbo said.
Hellman said he was pleased with both teams’ performance at Nationals, but still has loftier goals.
“With our program, we will never be content until we have two national championship teams on the same day,” he said. “So we continue to work toward that goal.”