Augie's Cross Country Norwegians
September 22, 2011, 10:50 PM
SIOUX FALLS, SD -
It's no secret that students come from all over the world to attend Augustana College, especially from countries in Scandinavia.
While the Viking cross country team has had athletes from Norway on the team since 1993, this season it has eight. And those Norwegians are a big reason why Augie is ranked in the top six nationally.
When it comes to recruiting top talent, Augustana head coach Tracy Hellman is more than willing to cross an ocean to find what he needs. And the athletes he brings in from Norway, seem to fit right in.
“Sometimes you can't tell the Norwegians from the Minnesotans,” Hellman said. “Sometimes I think I hear that, Team Norway, but hey everybody's got their connection, their niche and that's kind of what we got going now.”
Hellman took over the program in 2000. Since then, there have been Norwegians on the team every season.
“Now, it's a yearly trip for me and it's really neat because I think we're becoming known in Norway and in Scandinavia too as a good option for a lot of the track and field athletes to come to school,” Hellman said.
“I go home every summer and tell people in my running community how good Augustana is,” Kristin Brondbo, a sophomore from Steinkjer, Norway, said. “I know some who have thought about coming over. It's good, who knows.”
Admittedly, runners like All-American Tom Karbo say it can be a bit scary leaving your home to head to the states. But, having fellow countrymen and women on the same team makes things a lot easier.
“It's nice, especially my first year when I didn't know anybody, it was nice to have Norwegians here to talk Norwegian with because my English wasn't that good,” Karbo said. “It was always easier to talk to Norwegians than Americans in the beginning.”
Three out of Augie's four 2010 All-Americans are Norwegian, and with everyone back, Sophomore Runa Falch, also from Steinkjer, Norway, says there's only one word that can describe what the team plans to do in 2011.
“Rock, just rock, I mean the team is pretty strong and there's no reason to say anything else,” Falch said.
“They're competitive,” Hellman said. “They're good runners. It's a win win for I think everybody.”
The team has one Swede on the roster. He says he feels a little outnumbered but thankfully the tennis team recruited a Swedish player, so now he has someone he can relate to.
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