Following the Drake Relays in Des Moines last weekend, the Augustana track and field team has plenty of momentum as they zero in on the post season NSIC and NCAA II Championships.
Head coach Tracy Hellman is proud of the team’s success.
“We always put Drake high on our list as far as importance, and we had the opportunity to add to our storied history” Hellman said.
The Vikings won both the men’s and women’s distance medley relays (DMR), with the women’s team setting a new school record.
The women’s DMR team consisted of sophomore Carina Hofmeister, junior Kayla Mescher, and seniors Kyle Blakeslee and Kristin Brondbo.
“Kristin pulled through and ran an amazing mile, helping us win the DMR Drake Relays Title,” Blakeslee said. “We came back from being behind by 8 seconds to winning by 5 seconds.”
The women’s 4×400-meter relay also broke the school record, set back in 1998, in a time that qualified them for nationals in late May.
“The women’s 4×400 has been working all year to hit that time, so we were very excited to see them do that at such a big stage as Drake Relays,” Hellman said.
Hofmeister was part of both record-breaking relays, and has already broken the school’s 200-meter dash record.
“Two of my top goals for my college track career were breaking a school record in an individual event and qualifying for outdoor nationals,” Hofmeister said. “It is a great feeling to know that I accomplished both of these goals this season already, and that I can now think of new goals I can focus on.”
The coaching staff is similarly satisfied with the season’s success.
“This has been a very exciting season for us, as we have set multiple school records, set many personal bests and sent a large group of athletes to indoor nationals,” assistant coach Greg Binstock said. “We also have a good sized group of athletes who are [already] qualified to compete in the outdoor national championships with a few more opportunities for others in the next couple weeks.”
This weekend, the Vikings run the Howard Wood Relays in Sioux Falls, but Hellman said focus is on the NSIC Championships in Winona on May 9 and 10.
In addition to the DMR success at Drake, Blakeslee qualified for nationals in the 3000-meter steeplechase and is hoping to qualify in the 5k with Brondbo this weekend. Her steeplechase performance has her ranked third in the nation for Division II athletes.
“We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing all season. We can’t go into the meet thinking that we are all automatically going to run faster, jump higher or throw farther than we have all year,” Blakeslee said.
The now-qualified Vikings will compete at the NCAA Championships May 22-24 in Allendale, Mich.
“It doesn’t matter who is the fastest seed time or who is the slowest in their event,” Blakeslee said. “We have so many talented runners here at Augustana. It just depends on who wants it most.”