Track & Field Earns Four All-America Honors, Rooney Wins 110-Hurdles at NCAA Championships

Posted on May 29th, 2021 by

Taylor Rooney, Coach Nathan Harder, and Birgen Nelson on the podium. (photo courtesy of Trent Jackson, Wartburg SID)


GREENSBORO, N.C. – Gustavus track & field took home four All-America honors and one national champion Saturday at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships. As a team, the Gustie women tied for 20th place with 12 points, while the Gustie men took 18th place with 13 points.

Taylor Rooney (Sr., Andover) culminated his Gustavus career by winning the national championship in the 110-hurdles with a NCAA Division III all-time record of 13.72 seconds. Rooney broke the previous Division III Championships record by .07 seconds, set by Justin Johnson of St. Norbert in 2012. In his final race, Rooney started out of the blocks strong and led start to finish with a clean hurdle over all 10 obstacles. Rooney dominated the race with the second-place finisher crossing the line at 14.11.

Rooney is the first Outdoor National Champion for the Gustie men since Max Hanson won the 800-meter in 2010, and just the third overall (Aaron Smith, hammer throw, 1999). Rooney is also the first All-American in the 110-hurdles since Tyler Geyen took fourth in 2009. Tanner Miest took eighth in the 110-hurdles in 2006.

“It was an awesome weekend overall,” Rooney said. “After two years of no national meet, I couldn’t have been happier to be back. It was awesome to end my Gustavus career on a high note and am thankful for everything this school has done for me these four years.”

Birgen Nelson (So., Edina) capped her sophomore season in impressive fashion earning All-America honors in the 100- and 400-hurdles. Nelson took second in the 100 with a school record time of 13.90 and took fifth in the 400 at 1:02.33.

Nelson is the first Outdoor All-American for the Gustie women since 2012 and the first ever All-American in both the 100- and 400-hurdles.

“I am really happy with how this week went,” Nelson said. “I PR’d in the 100 hurdles twice and finally went sub-14. I had a clean race in the 400 hurdles and still feel like I have way more to give. It was my third and fourth time running it ever all in one week. I loved every moment of every race. My favorite part of the trip has been getting to know my teammates better and making new friends in my events.”

Steven Orzolek (Jr., Darwin) earned the Gusties’ fourth All-America honor of the day by taking sixth place in the shot put with a heave of 55-7.75. Orzolek joins a long list of Gustie throwers to earn All-America, garnering the program’s eighth All-American honor in the outdoor shot put.

Annika Poe (So., Big Lake) took 13th place in the shot put with a throw of 43-7.25 and Madi Kes (Fy., Jordan) placed 17th in the triple jump at 36-0.25.


One Comment

  1. Roland Thorstensson says:

    No hurdle too big, no hurdle too high…Congratulations Birgen and Taylor!