FRANK CUSHMAN | SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
The St. Norbert women’s track and field team has not suffered any sort of so-called “championship hangover.” Last year, they amassed not one but two conference championships in both the indoor and the outdoor seasons. They also sent athletes to both indoor and outdoor National Championships. Needless to say, it was a very successful 2015, one that could be rightly described as difficult to top. Yet, Coach Augustine’s group have won the Midwest Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship for the second year running.
Scoring 216 points, the most ever tallied by the team at a MWC Indoor Championship, the Green Knights rolled to their victory two weekends ago at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.
The Green Knights were led by first place finishers and conference champions Brittany Kozlowski ’17 in the 1-mile and 800 meter run, Liz LeCaptain ’16 in the 60-meter dash and long jump, the distance medley relay of Lisa Baeten ’18, Danielle Harris ’18, Sarah Parbs ’18 and Kozlowski, as well as Kristina Herman ’19 in the shot put. The Green Knights sailed to the win, beating second-place Monmouth College by a comfortable 53 points.
Kozlowski set a new school and conference record for the mile, running it in 5:01.32. With another record breaking performance in the 800-meter run, cruising in at 2:13.40, she once again surpassed both school and conference records. She won a total of four medals, three first-place and one second. As a final honor, she was awarded one of the meet’s Most Outstanding Track performers.
The team placed two athletes in the top three spots in five out of the possible fifteen individual events and at had at least one athlete in the top three in fourteen out of nineteen events. These numbers give some indication as to why Coach Augustine received the Coach of the Year award, his second such award in as many years.
“I think the women have developed a killer instinct,” Augustine said when asked about the keys to their sustained success over the past few seasons. He says this attitude comes from “inner confidence” gained through the many hours each athlete has dedicated to the sport. “Because they put in so much time, they have no reason to not believe they will put in great performances when it matters.”
He also made mention of the impressive support the entire team gives to each other. “It is extremely important for our success to have a close group and that is one of the traits of our team that I am most proud of,” he said.
The Green Knight women sent three athletes for five events to the National Indoor Championship held in Grinnell, Iowa this past weekend. Erin Artz ’17 took place in the 5K and 3K, Sam Morateck ’17 participated in the high jump and Kozlowski ran the 800-meter and mile. Kozlowski finished with the fifth-best time in the 800-meter qualifying and participated in the finals. She ultimately finished in seventh place, earning All-America honors with a final time of 2:12.81. Artz and Morateck placed well in their events, but did not qualify for the finals in their respective events.
Never resting on their laurels, and with a fast approaching spring season, the women will have a whole new set of opportunities and challenges laid out before them. If you’re wondering if they want a second consecutive MWC outdoor championship as well, Coach Augustine has a definitive response. “There is no question that is a goal for our team.”
Some of the athletes to watch this spring are upperclassmen Clarissa Jauregui ’17, Liz LeCaptain, Angel Hon ’16 and Nicole Vanderlin ’16, who are striving to finish their careers strong. Kristina Herman ’19 and Hannah Kruse ’18 are two younger members of the team who have already set school records and will only continue to grow. Taylor Domro ’18, Sarah Duff ’19 and Haidyn Mueller ’19, are also athletes looking to be in the national picture in the future.
As the frozen tundra thaws, women’s track is looking towards an exciting spring, one that holds opportunities to continue to add to the success that seems to be becoming habitual.