Augustana men’s XC continues to rise

%28Left+to+right%29+Senior+Keith+Cline%2C+senior+Bryan+Long+and+junior+Jeremy+Lang+run+during+the+Brissman%2FLundeen+Invitational+at+Saukie+Golf+Course+in+Rock+Island%2C+IL+on+Sept.+26.%0APhoto+by+Hoang+Nguyen.

(Left to right) Senior Keith Cline, senior Bryan Long and junior Jeremy Lang run during the Brissman/Lundeen Invitational at Saukie Golf Course in Rock Island, IL on Sept. 26. Photo by Hoang Nguyen.

(Left to right) Senior Keith Cline, senior Bryan Long and junior Jeremy Lang run during the Brissman/Lundeen Invitational at Saukie Golf Course in Rock Island, IL on Sept. 26. Photo by Hoang Nguyen.
(Left to right) Senior Keith Cline, senior Bryan Long and junior Jeremy Lang run during the Brissman/Lundeen Invitational at Saukie Golf Course in Rock Island, IL on Sept. 26.
Photo by Hoang Nguyen.

The Augustana cross country team has been advancing throughout the year meet by meet.
Before the year started, the team was not ranked in the national polls, but after their first meet, the team was ranked 35th.  The team then advanced to 33rd after its second race.
On Sept. 26, Augustana took fourth at a home meet and beat out the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, who is ranked ahead of them in national polls.
“I believe that the team is getting better every week and every meet,” said head coach Paul Olsen. “The only three teams that placed higher than us this past Friday were some of the best in the nation, so I think that we will be advancing even more in the poles very soon.”
One of the top runners on the team this year is junior Keith Sands, who has been its most consistent runner by being the team top runner in the first three meets.
“I did a lot of miles training this summer,” said Sands. “I believe that has helped make my times better from last year.”
Sands’ times are comparable to last year, but they are faster than before.
Last year, Sands ran a 8k in 25 minutes and three seconds at the regional meet, but this year he is looking to break under 25 minutes, which he thinks will make him an All-American.
Coach Olsen also has high hopes for Sands, and believes that he is All-American material.
“Sands has extraordinary physical talent and great mature emotional stability,” said Olsen. “I expect Sands to be one of the top runners in the nation.
The teams next meet is Saturday October 4 at the Wartburg Invitational.  This meet has three of the top DIII teams in the nation,  four counting Augustana.  There are also more teams that could give Augustana strong competition. Olsen is going into this invitational with the goal of winning.
“I think despite the strong competition, we have the ability and mental strength to beat any other team.” said Olsen.
To win the invitational the top five runners on Augustana’s team have to run in a tight group.  At the last meet, the first and fifth runners were about 50 seconds apart, and Olsen said he is hoping at the Wartburg Invitational the top 5 runners will be even closer than that.
Along with expecting to win, Olsen wants to use this race to help gauge were the team is this season.  If the team is able to pull off a victory, then they will continue to move up in the rankings like they have throughout the whole year.
With Sands, Olsen thinks sophomore Tanner Osing and junior Ethan Koch will finish with the top runners at the Wartburg Invite.
After Wartburg, Augustana has one more meet before they head to conference.