Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Track and field ready to score high in upcoming seasons

Oshan Hamal
The Augustana College Track and Field team competes in the Men 40 Meter Dash Fly 10 at the Pepsico Recreational Center on Friday, Dec. 1.

On Friday, Dec 1, the men’s and women’s track and field team had their first intrasquad meet in the PepsiCo recreation center. The meet had many ups and downs regarding athletes’ performances but overall gave a great preview of what’s to come for this upcoming season. The team is looking to improve their conference score from last year by having high expectations and because of the increase in members on the team.

“We want to place in the top three in the conference for both indoor and outdoor for men and women,” senior Connor McBride said. “We think we have a really good shot at that. Just with the freshmen coming in, and then the upperclassmen that have returned, we feel confident.” 

Last year, the team did not perform as well as expected. In the indoor season, the men placed sixth while the women placed eighth. During the outdoor season, the men placed seventh while the women placed sixth. 

“We did what we could with what athletes we had, but the depth just wasn’t there,” senior Austin Earley said.

A big change that the track and field team has experienced so far this season has been a change in the coaching staff. Chad Gunnelson was named the director of track and field and cross country over the summer. Gunnelson, although new to the program, had been the director of track and field at the University of Dubuque for the past 12 years. As director, Gunnelson gets to coach the entire track and field program as well as both cross-country teams. 

“I oversee the track and field and cross country programs,” Gunnelson said. “From an administrative standpoint and coaching standpoint, I get a chance to oversee all of our coaching staff, get a chance to guide and shape our program in terms of team culture and performance and be a guide.”

This year, with the help of a new coaching staff, the team is hoping to develop its athletes as well as grow the amount of coaches present in each area of the program. 

“I retained 100% of the staff that was present,” Gunnelson. “We ended up hiring a few more coaches. We hired a multis coach. We hired another assistant distance coach, and then we hired a strength and conditioning coach. So we grew the staff.”

With the increased number of coaches, the team is looking to place high in both the indoor and outdoor conference championships. However, because the track season is long, there are many challenges the team may face in regards to injury and recovery.

Senior Hannah Johnson is familiar with how injury and fatigue can affect an athlete’s ability to perform to their best ability. However, with help from teammates and the coaching staff, athletes can thrive in their sport. 

Cross country finished a successful season and provided substantial momentum to continue that success into the track season,” Johnson said.However, the duration of the season could mean the threat of injury and fatigue, especially when course content begins to get rigorous in our classes.”

Despite the risk of injury, the team is well aware of the fact that there is a lot of support from the coaching staff as well as the athletic trainers to reduce the amount of injury on the team. 

“While these are objective challenges that every track team faces due to the nature of the sport, I anticipate that we will meet this head-on,” Johnson said. “We have a great trainer who works to maintain our health, coaches invested in our well-being beyond athletic performance, and a great support system within each other on the team.”

The track and field team will look to improve throughout the weeks and will have their next meet on Friday, Jan. 19.

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