Augustana’s track and field team sent two of its team members to compete against Division I runners in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 23-24. Seniors PJ English and Colten Brand both competed in the 1500 meter run.
“PJ and Colten had a great indoor season, so we really wanted to use their fitness from indoor to get a fast outdoor qualifying time,” head coach Tracy Hellman said.
Unlike usual meets, which include the entire team, only English, Brand and Hellman made the trip down to North Carolina.
“Track is unique compared to other sports where we can compete in a lot of meets, so there are all divisions at a lot of meets,” Hellman said. “In other sports, our teams wouldn’t compete against someone like Alabama.”
The atmosphere in Raleigh was different as well. With such a large number of runners competing, there was a much bigger crowd than usual to energize the team members.
“Having a big crowd there is exciting because you’re running down the home stretch and there are a lot of people cheering you on,” Brand said. “They don’t even know who you are. They are just cheering because everyone is finishing the race.”
Brand opened the outdoor season with a personal best time of 3:49.59, just shy of an NCAA provisional qualifying mark.
“I feel my mentality was pretty smooth throughout the race,” Brand said.
English took the track a day later, running an NCAA provisional qualifying mark with a time of 4:27.43.
“With the 1500, you’re able to run a fast time, but it definitely helps to have people pulling you along,” English said.
English placed third among Division II runners in the event.
“Before the race, I was pretty nervous, and with all the DI competition, it is easy to have some of that imposter syndrome, like, “Do I really deserve to be here?” English said.
The outdoor track and field season started for the entire team on April 2, and the Vikings will continue action on April 14-15 at the Sioux City Relays in Sioux City, Iowa.