The track and field athletes broke five indoor school records and two South Dakota Collegiate records.
Austin Miller broke a 31-year-old mile record and helped lead the men’s Distance Medley Relay team to a new school record. Ryan Hartman, another member of the DMR team, broke the school record for the 3000 meter. Cami Streff broke the women’s 800 meter record, while also helping the women’s DMR team to a school record of their own.
The men’s DMR team, Miller, Hartman, Evan Johnson and Matthew Schoessow, broke both a school record and the South Dakota Collegiate record with a time of 9:39.26.
“We knew that we were going to have to break the record in order to make it to indoor nationals, which was the ultimate goal,” Hartman said. “We knew that if we ran our best race we could run pretty fast as a relay.”
Their time broke the previous school record, 9:49.06 set in 2012, by just under 10 seconds.
“I was almost in disbelief when I saw what the time was. I knew that would put us close to the top in the national standings,” Johnson said. “The time confirmed that we can run with any team in the nation.”
Not only did the DMR team break records, they did it without their coach, Tracy Hellman, who was unable to travel with them.
“At this level these athletes are able to perform without me being present,” Hellman said. “You know they’re an experienced group. They’ve got two seniors in that group, and they don’t get rattled easily.”
“It was an awesome feeling of achievement seeing that that hard work we put in throughout the summer, fall and winter had paid off,” Schoessow said.
Miller also broke a 31-year-old men’s mile record. This new school record came just a day after Miller helped lead the DMR team to a new school and state collegiate record.
“You know I saw the potential in Austin, but sometimes the race has gotta set up the right way,” Hellman said.
Miller’s time of 4:02.40 broke the former school record of 4:05.68, set in 1991.
“I was really happy to win the race because I knew that winning that race would show that I was one of the best guys in the country,” Miller said. “I didn’t even look at the time until a few minutes after the race. I was really only focused on winning the race and helping my team.”
This mindset of focusing on bettering yourself and winning the race is something that coach Hellman has taught to all of his runners.
“If you’re competing at a high level, the times will take care of themselves,” Hellman said.
The record Miller broke was held by his former middle school cross country coach Matt Kiesow, who predicted the record-breaker when he visited Augustana’s practice a couple months ago.
“I knew for sure last year, maybe even the year before,” Kiesow said. “Just watching what he could do, I could see that he had the right mix of speed and endurance to break the record.”
Hartman, who also broke Kiesow’s mile record, but finished behind Miller, broke the 3000 meter school record with a time of 8:04.78, a little under five seconds faster than Glen Ellingson’s 8:09.68, which set the record in 2017.
Hartman certainly did break the school record: his time was only a fraction of a second behind the South Dakota Collegiate record time of 8:04.17.
“You know I really thought he was gonna break the record from what I had seen in other races,” Hellman said.
The second South Dakota Collegiate record broken by Augustana came by the women’s DMR team. The DMR team showed up when it mattered the most, breaking the school record, South Dakota Collegiate record and earned All-America honors in one race. Team members include Streff, Nicolette Schmidt, Patty Jo English and Ella Heinitz.
“I was really proud of my team because I knew we were capable of doing it,” Heinitz said. “We were able to all put good races together to achieve something that hadn’t been done before at Augie. On top of that, we were now All-Americans, and it truly was an amazing moment.”
The DMR team ran a school record 11:30.84, almost 10 seconds faster than the previous record of 11:39.36.
“We don’t often set out to break school records,” English said. “We just try to be better than we were last season, and that just so happened to result in a school record.”
Schmidt said all four runners are returning next year.
“We are excited to see what we can accomplish next indoor season,” Schmidt said. “We have big goals.”
Streff is no stranger to broken records as she contributed to the women’s DMR record and breaking the 800 meter school record with a time of 2:09.61 at the SDSU Classic.
“I thought Cami was set up to run really well,” Hellman said. “I felt if she was healthy, she could do it. I have really high expectations for her just with what I’ve seen in practice.”
Unlike her coach, Streff wasn’t quite as sure.
“I didn’t know that it was going to happen,” Streff said. “I just knew it was going to be a competitive race and I had to be ready. After I crossed the line I didn’t know what time I had ran. I was just face-down tired and my teammates all walked onto the track, and they were congratulating me and telling me that I had broken 2:10, which I hadn’t done before. Then my coach told me I had broken both the school record and the meet record.”
Augustana’s Track and Field athletes will have another opportunity to break records with the beginning of the outdoor season on April 2.