After a long weekend, a wide variety of conditions, and a couple tough races, the Viking's cross country running team sits sprawled across the seats and floor at the farthest gate in the Toronto airport. The atmosphere is one of weariness and comradery as the team reflects on a successful CCAA and prepares for the 4 hour flight home.
The team arrived on site the morning of Saturday November 10 with excitement in their eyes and spikes on their feet. A preview of the course the day before had revealed the apparent need for longer than normal spikes to take on the inches of mud, snow, and leaves that littered the trail. Our athletes were looking forward to a race that was sure to keep them on their toes.
Energy at the start line of the women's 6 kilometer was running high and the team kept the momentum going with the traditional team cheer. Warm ups were dropped, laces were double knotted, and some last minute back slaps were distributed as coaches backed out of the starting gates to let the race begin. Running on the Augustana women's team was Mack Grove (26:26) placing 41st overall, Catherine Alcorn (27:07), Anne Mirejovsky (27:54), Emily Lyseng (29:43), Kylie Peake (29:57), and Tayla Koerber (31:53). Wind and snow was whipping the ladies raw, but it didn't stop the stampede as the gun went off and the CCAA Women's National Championship was underway. In a line-up of 117 women, Grove strategically made it into a gap and secured good placement for the single track a short distance from the start. Alcorn was boxed out and ended up near the inside edge, and Mirejovsky stuck close with her. The ladies worked together to earn 13th place as a team along with Lyseng, Peake, and Koerber. Eighteen women's teams attended the event.
An hour after the start of the women's race, Augustana's Michio Green, Ben Osorio, Nathanael Tabert, Noah Day, Joe Sartison, and Jackson Sweder toed the line amongst 120 other runners from across the country. Toronto threw everything it had at our athletes in terms of weather, but Vikings are no strangers to this kind of adversity. As the gun fired off the men's race, hail started to fall fast and hard and the guys charged into the storm. Green played out his race plan to a tee and began picking off runners one by one, eventually landing himself 5th out of attending ACAC runners, 3 of whom made top 5 overall. Green placed 24th overall with a time of 29:33 over the 8km distance. Behind him, Osorio and Tabert running 30:40 and 30:46 respectively. Day (32:45), Sartison (34:26), and Sweder (36:52) followed up and brought the Viking's running season to a happy close just after 12:30pm with a team placement of 12th out of 20.
Coaches Gerhard Lotz and Robert Renman offered a toast to a great season, topped with a great final race. Lotz commented, "I knew you guys would run well but… what I saw out there today was really fantastic."
This will be the final event for several of the team's veterans including Sartison, Grove, Lyseng, and Koerber. The team continues to look towards next season with fresh goals and strong legs, led as ever by the commendable Lotz and Renman.