Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Vikings bring home NCAA Title in 1600 Relay

After coming up just short in recent years, the Augustana men’s 1600-meter relay team finally brought a national championship back to Rock Island.
Anchored by senior David Voland, the Midwest Region Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, the Augustana 1600 relay team defeated Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a winning time of 3:15.97 at the NCAA Division III indoor track & field championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The 1600 relay team was the runner-up in last year’s indoor championships and finished second in the outdoor championships the past three years. Head coach Paul Olsen talked about how coming up just short in the past helped his team this season.
“We’ve come in second four times the last three years, but I looked at that as a positive,” said Olsen. “That’s really special and not many people can say they’ve done that. So we used that as a confidence boost for this year.”
Teamed with Voland on the relay were fellow seniors Keith Cline and David Devore, along with sophomore lead-off Isaac Smith.
Cline talked about the nail-biting final sequence of the race.
“I was very confident when I handed it off to him (Voland),” Cline said. “I watched him come down the home stretch in a dead heat, but as he was crossing the finish line I couldn’t tell if we won or not.”
Augustana won by just .02 seconds, 3:15.97 to Oshkosh’s 3:15.99.
“I have such great confidence in David Voland that I knew he was going to catch him,” said Olsen. “When he (Voland) crossed the finish line and we were waiting to see the final time, it felt like an hour.”
Voland explained his thought process as he raced to the finish.
“One thing that was going through my head was this is not going to be a repeat of last year,” said Voland. “I kept saying that to myself over and over.”
Just a few weeks ago, the Vikings chances at the title looked bleak, due to nagging injuries and a concussion. But that didn’t stop this veteran relay team.
“What was so exciting for me is that I know what those guys have been through,” said Olsen. “They’ve had this goal and just never stopped believing despite all of the difficulties.”
“We’ve wanted this for so long and literally given blood, sweat, and tears together for the sport and this particular relay,” Voland added. “It means so much to finally be rewarded for everything we’ve put into it.”
Cline talked about the added importance of celebrating a team accomplishment.
“It was extremely special to celebrate a relay championship with your teammates,” said Cline. “It’s nice to do well individually, but when you are able to celebrate a collaborative effort it makes it that much more special.”
With the outdoor season just around the corner, the 1600 relay team is excited for the possibilities.
“I think the future looks bright for our track program,” Cline said. “We want to keep the momentum going as outdoor season begins and remain part of this winning culture.”
“Their leadership, character, and tremendous talent are keys to our success in the relay and we know we’re in the hunt again for outdoor (season),” said Olsen.

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Vikings bring home NCAA Title in 1600 Relay