Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Newest Leaders are Taking Men’s Cross Country on a Route to Success

New leadership is underweigh on the men’s cross country team with senior captains, Justin Verlinden and Cameron Shotton, and second year head coach, Jake Shaver. Coach Shaver, an Alumni of Augustana, is a graduate of the 2006 class and has returned to take on the track and field and cross country teams. This is a big change for the program, as Shaver is tasked with succeeding Paul Olsen who stepped down in 2018 after 52 years being head coach. “The incredible legacy of Paul Olsen and his tremendous impact on the lives of generations of Augie alumni will inspire me every day,” Shaver comments. 
The Vikings also find new leadership this season from two top runners, and senior captains Verlinden and Shotton hope to lead the Vikings to compete at the top of the conference meeting in November. Both captains are excited to continue the culture of dedication to the sport, the team, and the individuals on it.
Although competing for individual times, Cross Country is nonetheless a team sport. Shotton shares, “If one person is having a great day we usually all do because we’re inspired by them reaching new limits”. Verlinden explains the tactics of trying to run in packs during a race as to push one another to do their best as well as accumulating more points by finishing together. The team calls it the “pack mentality” Sometimes team members will drop a hand behind them, asking for a high five from the teammate behind him. This works to motivate both runners by reminding them to keep working hard and showing the support each member has for the other.
Enthusiasm and team spirit plays a large role in any team sport, and cross country is no exception. Before each race, the Vikings break it down with a team huddle and chant to energize themselves and get the adrenaline pumping. The huddle ends with a few words from Coach Shaver, then they are ready to race.
Men’s Cross Country team finished up their third meet of the 2019 season, last friday, September 20. The Vikings finished second at 50 points. Verlinden notes, “Take the positive we have from the past meet and bring that to our home meet in two weeks”. Check in with the cross country team as they host a home meet on October 4th, on the Saukie Golf Course.
“Most of the time, when I look back, it’s not the times I get that I remember, I think it’s more so being a part of the team that makes it so fulfilling,” Verlinden stated.

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Newest Leaders are Taking Men’s Cross Country on a Route to Success