North Central Men’s Track concludes strong year with outdoor excellence

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A strong finish for North Central Men’s Track and Field in Gabe Rivera’s first year

To finish off the first year for new North Central Men’s Track and Field head coach Gab Rivera, the Cardinals secured their fifth consecutive CCIW men’s outdoor track and field championship. It was also the fifth straight year of the Cardinals sweeping all three of the CCIW cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field titles.

“There’s a rich history here in North Central, and it’s really about continuing that foundation that exists already and building upon that as we move into the future,” Rivera said. “I really saw that step by step process as we were going from the fall through the winter to the spring and it’s really about continuing that progression of improvement both culturally and individually within the team.”

“Gabe did wonderful,” said senior distance runner Braden Nicholson. “You know, he may not be the, you know, the cross-country coach or the distance coach, but he’s done such a great job at gelling with the guys and creating a positive relationship with everybody. And every day everybody comes to practice, excited to work, and everybody knows that the coaches here want everybody to succeed.”

Distance runners continue to set the pace on the track at both conference and national meets

The strong conference performance was led, just like this past indoor season, by the team’s distance runners. Four runners qualified for nationals: Nicholson, in his first year qualification since returning to the team this year, along with stalwarts Drew Guimond, Connor Riss and Max Svienty.

“Well, we’re pretty fortunate to start the year off with cross country, so it gives those guys an opportunity to really set the tone for the rest of the team moving into the rest of the fall and the winter and spring months,” said Rivera. “We’re returning a huge group from that cross-country team to next year, and we’re really looking to have some fun and success for next year and I think that’s going to help set the tone for the rest of the specific event group athletes.”

“In track season we’ve got a different group of guys out here,” said Svienty comparing the cross country season to track and field. “It’s really still just all about like contributing to that team energy and in track that team is a bit bigger than it is in Cross and it’s still about contributing how we can, lifting other guys up no matter what event group they hail from and and trying to get everyone their best. So it’s really about putting our energy in positively and creating that model so that everyone on the team will also put their energy and positivity and contribute towards what we’re working towards as a team.”

After entering the weekend ranked 13th in the 5,000 meter run, Nicholson went on to finish third at nationals and was named an All American. In the same event, Svienty finished fifth to also earn an All American honor, his second this school year. Svienty and Riss both competed in the 10,000 meter race along with Guimond, where Riss finished 8th to also earn a second All American award of the year.

“Delayed gratification is what we talk about all the time and how we’re, you know, constantly working throughout the year to only feel good for a week or two,” said Nicholson. “But it all pays off in the end. I had a game plan to come in and, you know, give it everything I had. I ran through the race in my head, you know, ten, 15 times. And my goal is to just go out and stay with the leaders and and and use my fitness, which I’ve shown in workouts I’ve had but have had kind of problems with showing in races. And I knew within about 30 seconds of the race going off that it was going to be a good day.”

“All-American is a great honor and it’s a it’s a great title, but the goal is always to just set myself up for the best possible success I can have on any given day and the best success I can have at the end of the season and the best I can contribute to the team effort and the team energy,” Svienty said. “So the goal is always really the same. If it comes out with an All American finish, that’s great. But if it doesn’t, and I’ve given my best effort, that’s all I can ask for and that’s all I can ask of any of my teammates.”

“It’s easy to point out like the national accolades,  the All Americans from cross country and indoors and outdoors,” said assistant coach Matt Sinnott. “But, you know, there’s still 50 some distance runners that I’m looking at and I get proud every single week when we look at how many personal bests we’re getting every single week, you know, we’re in double digits from this group. Every single week. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big invitational, if it’s a if it’s a smaller meet or , if we’re going to the Drake Relays or a national meet, like we’re getting, we’re seeing everybody getting better. So that’s I love that part of it.”

Matt Sinnott named Midwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year

It wasn’t just runners who garnered national attention for the team. Matt Sinnott, who is an assistant coach for the track and field team overseeing the distance events in addition to being the head men’s cross country coach, was named regional assistant coach of the year.

“It’s reinforcement, I guess, for what is happening here,” Sinnott said of the award. “But I, I don’t attribute that to just myself at all. I recognize that I’m I might be the face of that recognition, but it’s a collaborative effort to get these guys to where they want to be. So that’s how I see it. It’s nice, but it’s definitely shared. And that part doesn’t get recognized as much that that’s a that should be a shared recognition amongst all of the distance coaches.”

“It means a lot to me just to have that kind of individual on our coaching staff that really helps support, and he’s a good mentor for the rest of our coaches that we have here at North Central as well,” Rivera said. “So the rest of our coaching staff, our young coaches, all through our older coaches, Matt is a strong focal point of that unit within our program. So pretty fortunate to have someone like him along with the rest of our staff.”

A strong returning group hopes to lead from the front

The men’s track and field team, and the distance group in particular, are a veteran roster that will return numerous fifth-year athletes next year. Rivera’s first year at the helm has seen the team maintain it’s high standards of success, and the distance runners plan to continue to set the team’s championship pace.

“We’ve got a strong group of athletes,” said Rivera. “They’re great human beings and great people. We really established a lot this past season and we really grew as individuals and as a team as we were kind of going through the year. So I think we are bringing back a strong class for next year and we’re excited for our new class coming in. I think we’re just going to have a great group of student athletes that are going to love running and throwing and jumping for fun, sprinting for fun and getting out there and just continually seeing that progress that we built upon this year turn then to next year.”

“So after the whole year is done, it’s really it’s, it’s back to work because obviously there was a lot of success, but I had a lot of shortcomings as well, which just means I need to work that much harder over the course of this next year to ensure even more success to come,” Svienty said of his outlook for the coming months.

“We’ve worked our butts off for years on end now,” said Nicholson. “And, you know, our culture is there. Everybody wants to work and it’s going to be a really exciting year. I took two days off of after nationals. And the cross-country training here because it’s hard like to not do any work because you’re just in a constant state of working. So now I’m really excited and I can tell everybody else is extremely excited.”