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January 10, 2013

Talented & deep Vikings look to repeat success

Senior Alex Rindone owns school records, CCIW championship and All-American certificates during his career. He leads the Vikings into the 2013 men's track & field season.

After a tremendous season in 2012 that culminated with a seventh place finish in the NCAA Division III outdoor national meet, hopes are understandably high for Augustana heading into 2013. The Vikings of veteran head coach Paul Olsen return 57 letter winners from a year ago after finishing second in both the indoor and outdoor championships in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin.

Augustana was also fifth in the NCAA Division III indoor dual meet power rankings after the indoor season and third in outdoors. Those rankings are compiled by the US Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association and involve a compilation of the top two times in each event. The Vikings have finished in the top three of the final outdoor rankings every year since 2008 and the top 10 of the final indoor ranking over the same time-span.  

"I think we are going to be terrific," said Olsen, who will be in his 46th season as the head coach of Augustana. "We return some great athletes who had a tremendous amount of success and we also have some kids who will be looking to break out this year."  

The Vikings return two individual conference champions from indoors, seniors Alex Rindone (Marmion Academy, Geneva, Ill.) in the 200 and Justin Smith (Fenton HS, Bensenville, Ill.) in the mile and a total of five individual and two relay winners from the outdoor CCIW meet. Rindone won the 200 in 2012 while senior Brian Pollastrini (York HS, Elmhurst, Ill.) in the 5,000, sophomore David Voland (Batavia HS, Batavia, Ill.) in the 400 intermediate hurdles, sophomore Torre Harrell (Bloomington HS, Bloomington, Ill.) and senior Ethan Gale (Oregon HS, Oregon, Ill.) in the decathlon are the other individual winners who return. The 400 relay team of sophomore David Devore (Midland HS, Midland, Mich.), senior Greg Patton (Bloomington HS, Bloomington, Ill.), sophomore Keith Cline (Byron HS, Byron, Ill.) and Rindone returns intact as does three-fourths 1600 relay unit with Patton, Voland and Rindone.  

Last year Rindone set indoor school records in the 60 (:06.95), 200 (:21.97) and 300 (:35.07) while junior Josh Eisenberg (Richmond-Burton HS, Spring Grove, Ill.) set a new mark in the heptathlon (4,313). The 800 relay team of Cline, junior Jay Graffagna (Geneva HS, LaFox, Ill.), senior Floyd Mays (Mooseheart HS, Justice, Ill.) and Voland own the school record at 1:30.04.  

Rindone is also the outdoor record holder at 200 (:21.17) while the 400 relay team of Devore, Patton, Cline and Rindone own that mark of :40.88 and the 1600 relay of Patton, senior Daniel Doubet (Galesburg HS, Galesburg, Ill.), Voland and Rindone claimed a new record of 3:11.64.  

Rindone (200, 400 relay & 1600 relay), Voland (400 hurdles & 1600 relay), Patton (400 relay & 1600 relay), Doubet (1600 relay), Devore (400 relay) and Cline (400 relay) are all returning All-Americans.  

"We have depth across the board," said Olsen. "Our blue-chip kids are really good. There are some holes, of course, but I think we can fill them."  

Leadership will be provided by senior captains Gale, Kevin Macek (Carl Sandburg HS, Orland Park, Ill.), Patton, Pollastrini, Rindone and Justin Smith.  

EVENTS BREAKDOWN   

SPRINTS - Rindone leads the way in the sprints. He is a multiple school record-holder, multiple conference-champion and multiple All-American. He will be a standout in anything from the 100 up to the 400 and he owns the anchor position on both the 400 and 1600 relays. He has plenty of company as Patton, Cline and Devore return as members of the school-record setting 400 relay team that placed fourth in the national meet. The 1600 relay, which was second in the nation, brings back Patton, Doubet, Voland and Rindone.

Graffagna was on the 400 relay as a freshman and he is part of a school record holding 800 relay mark indoors. Mays, who was also on that indoor 800 relay team, will be a factor as will sophomore Nowlan Savage (Arapahoe HS, Highlands Ranch, Colo.). Two others who will be in the mix are junior Jared Spivey (Annawan HS, Annawan, Ill.) and sophomore Antonio Owens (Naperville North HS, Naperville, Ill.).  

HURDLES - Voland won the CCIW title in the 400 hurdles and placed third in the national meet. Another sophomore, Kyle Bennett (Davenport West HS, Davenport, Iowa) also had a tremendous freshman season. Freshman Travis Goodwin (Simi Valley HS, Simi Valley, Calif.) will be a factor as well.

MIDDLE DISTANCE - The 800 has a deep and talented group with sophomore Vincenzo Dal Pozzo (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville, Ill.), junior Edgar Valle (Kaneland HS, Elburn, Ill.), junior Chris Madison (Downers Grove South HS, Downers Grove, Ill.) and junior Steve Zahrobsky (Downers Grove South HS, Woodridge, Ill.) leading the way. Freshmen Dan Popek (Minooka HS, Minooka, Ill.) and Cale McCormick (Mahomet-Seymour HS, Mahomet, Ill.) will be up with the top group also.

In the 1500 senior Justin Smith (Fenton HS, Bensenville, Ill.) is the defending indoor mile champion in the CCIW and he qualified for the outdoor NCAA national meet in the 1500. He was also named to the Capital One Academic All-America team last spring. Senior Dennis O'Flaherty (Carl Sandburg HS, Orland Park, Ill.) and sophomores Keegan Buttimer (Riverside-Brookfield HS, Riverside, Ill.), Nick Gornick (York HS, Elmhurst, Ill.) and Alex Odenkirk (Ironwood Ridge HS, Tucson, Ariz.) all made great strides last spring.  

DISTANCE - Pollastrini won the outdoor CCIW title in the 5,000 meters last year, and looks to contribute again in both the 5000 and 10,000 meter races. An extremely deep distance squad will also senior Jonathon Smith (Moline HS, Moline, Ill.), who won NCAA Division III All-American honors this past fall in cross country. Freshman Keith Sands (United Township HS, Silvis, Ill.) and senior Nathan Smith (Fenton HS, Bensenville, Ill.) make this an extremely solid group.  

In the steeplechase junior Tyler Busch (Winnebago HS, Winnebago, Ill.) leads the way and he will be joined by senior Tommy Harris (Davenport Assumption HS, Davenport, Iowa) and juniors Andrew Allabastro (Lyons Township HS, LaGrange, Ill.), Alex Stockwell (Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn, Ill.) and Isaac Trostle (Willowbrook HS, Lombard, Ill.).  

FIELD EVENTS - The big news out of the throwing events is that three school record holders graduated and need to be replaced. Macek will serve as team captain and will be joined in the by sophomore Jacob Benner (Batavia HS, Batavia, Ill.) in the hammer and the discus. The javelin will be manned by seniors Luke Anderson (Lemont HS, Lemont, Ill.) and Mike Anderson (Richmond-Burton HS, Spring Grove, Ill.) and sophomore Alec Seymour (Riverton HS, Riverton, Ill.).  

Harrell won the long jump and he will be helped out in the horizontal jumps by seniors Jacob O'Rourke (Davenport Assumption HS, Bettendorf, Iowa) and Mike Tovar (Mooseheart HS, Chicago, Ill.). Junior Nick Sinon (Kaneland HS, Elburn, Ill.) won the CCIW high jump title as a freshman in 2011 before sitting out last year with an injury. Junior Justin Davidson (Galesburg HS, Galesburg, Ill.) will also compete in the high jump.  

Senior Colton Vankirk (Rochelle HS, Rochelle, Ill.) leads the pole vaulters with sophomore Jeff Padesky (Moline HS, Moline, Ill.), junior Erik Hansen (Geneva HS, Geneva, Ill.) and junior Will Lardner (Mundelein HS, Mundelein, Ill.) providing depth.  

Gale won the CCIW decathlon championship last year and Eisenberg is the school record holder in the heptathlon indoors. Senior Kyle Williams (Lake Zurich HS, Lake Zurich, Ill.) freshman Shay Hostens (Galesburg HS, Galesburg, Ill.) will also be in the multiple-events.