NINE VIKINGS NAMED ALL-AMERICAN

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JACOB BELGUM

jbbelgum13@ole.augie.edu

The Augustana College Track & Field team turned its long-distance prowess into nine All-America awards last weekend at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Winston-Salem, NC.

Both the men’s and women’s distance medley teams raced to sixth-place finishes on the first day of the two-day competition, yielding a total of eight All-American honorees.

The medley teams consist of four members, each running different meter increments.

For the men, the race commenced with junior Henrik Hansson running the first 1200-meter leg of the race. When Hansson passed the baton to junior Skyler Kuil, the Vikings stood in fourth place.

Kuil quickly finished his 400-meter leg in just under 50 seconds to keep the Vikings in the top five before handing the baton to senior Aduo Omot.

Omot, a former national champion in the indoor 800-meter run, then finished his 800-meter portion of the race in enough time to keep the team’s All-American hopes alive.

Sophomore Harald Karbo anchored the medley and crossed the finish line after his 1600-meter leg to clock an Augustana time of 9:57.31, narrowly off the pace (.03 seconds) of fifth place. The sixth-place finish means the men’s medley team was All-American for the third time in four years.

“We always have high expectations coming into the the race and ended up finishing top eight with a respectable honor,” Kuil said. “It was a great experience to be a part of such a good group of teammates and coaches. Augustana bringing back nine All-Americans was just a great way to wrap up the indoor season and prepare us for the outdoor.”

The women’s team of Emma Anderson, Carina Hofmeister, Kayla Mescher, and Kyle Blakeslee started slow and sat in ninth place (only the top eight teams earn All-America) after the first leg of the race.

But, after Hofmeister, a sophomore, took the baton following Anderson’s initial leg, the women never fell outside the top eight again.

Mescher, a junior, ran the penultimate leg before passing the baton to Blakeslee, the squad’s lone senior, who finished her split to earn a total team-time of 11:50.07.

“The National atmosphere is exciting,” Mescher said. “It’s fun being able to run in front of such a large crowd with the best Division-II track athletes in the country.“

The women’s distance medley team has now earned All-America honors for four consecutive years. However, the team focuses on one season at a time.

“Earning the All-American honor is a great reward for all the work we put in the last couple of weeks,” Hofmeister said.

The lone individual to garner an All-America spot was senior Kristin Brondbo. On day two of the Championships, she overtook several competitors during the final lap of her 3000-meter run, finishing with a time of 9:46.07. She qualified for the final race with the top time.

“I tried to open pretty controlled and just move further up as the race went, and that worked well,” Brondbo said. “Overall the race was a great experience.”

Brondbo’s fourth-place performance, coupled with the sixth-place finish from the distance medley, allowed the Vikings women to finish in 28th place overall in the team competition with eight points. The men accrued three points and finished in a tie for 38th place.

Not only did eight Augustana Track & Field athletes earn All-America status, a dozen members were recently named to the All-Region team.

For the men, the distance medley team was honored, and three members of that team collected multiple awards. Harald Karbo was All-Region in the 1600 and 3000-meter runs (Sophomore John Klecker also earned honors in the 1600 and 3000).  Henrik Hansson and Aduo Omot received awards for 800 meters.

CJ Ham, a starting running back on the football team, put forth All-Region performances in the shot put and weight throw.

The women’s distance medley team received All-Region recognition, and Kyle Blakeslee also earned All-Region status in the 1600 and 3000-meter runs. Before finishing fourth in the 3000 meters at Nationals, Kristin Brondbo ran All-Region times in the 3000 and 5000-meter runs.

Sophomore Kelsey Kaufmann received honors for her performance in the high jump.

The teams have begun preparing for their next competition, which takes place at the Wildcat Classic in Wayne, Neb. on March 29.