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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Ballinger is 3-time All-American

<m Ballinger ’09 placed third in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships Saturday, closing out his illustrious collegiate career with his third All-America citation.

His run led the Knights to a five-way tie for 49th place in the team competition in Marietta, Ohio. St. Olaf also finished tied for 49th.

Ballinger ran a season-best 52.23 in the final, trailing only favorite Cory Beebe (51.28) of Salisbury University and Ben Zill (52.07) of Wisconsin-Oshkosh at the finish line.

The Wenatchee, Washington native edged St. Thomas sophomore Matt Griswold, who upset the Knight captain at the MIAC conference meet but ran 52.57 for fourth in the national final.

In last Thursday’s preliminary heat, Ballinger raced 52.76 for third behind Zill and the College of New Jersey’s Al Wonesh. Ironically, head coach Dave Ricks is from New Jersey. The fourth-place finisher in the heat was 2008 runner-up Ted McMillan of Augustana.

With his prelim run, Ballinger qualified sixth for the finals. Running out of lane 7, the Knight had only Griswold to his outside, yet he got out well and ran the second-fastest race of his life and the second fastest in Carleton history.

In all, Ballinger bettered the NCAA provisional qualifying time eight times in 2009. He will graduate a three-time All-American, a two-time MIAC Champion and a nine-time All-MIAC performer, easily the most decorated hurdler in school history.

And he’s just an all-around great guy.

While Ballinger was off in Ohio at nationals, the Knights distance runners traveled to northern Wisconsin and defended their title in the Chaquamegon Woods to Water Relay.
The 80-mile trek from Cable to Ashland, WI took “Slabadabadoo” just 7 hours, 51 minutes and 7 seconds. The second-place team finally arrived at the finish line over 54 minutes later.

By that time, the Fellahs had already showered and changed, and were enjoying a gigantic meal. Some reports indicate that Famous Johnson ’12 was already on his third bratwurst when the runners-up entered the building.

Johnson led off for Slabadabadoo and handed off to Eric Hofmann ’09, who put his country first by wearing a 2004 Olympic Team USA singlet. He passed to fellow senior Tom Brenner.
Brenner was incredibly fit for Woods to Water, as he has been doing workouts since the conference meet. He even did Ambroe miles when it was 90 degrees out. He also has well-defined abdominals, which helped him attract quite the following during the race.

Colin Sinclair ’11 and Chris Marshall ’10 held down the middle legs, and sprinter-turned-cross country runner Michael Sanders ’10 ran leg six. Kian Flynn ’12 ran seventh, followed by anchor Michael Knudson ’11.

Down the finishing stretch, Knudson ran so fast that his teammates were unable to sing “I’ve got slabbaj” as they entered the arena. Had there been an Ole present, God only knows how sick that kick would have been.

Slabadabadoo did not dress up or otherwise outwardly show team spirit in any way. “Our spirit is winning,” said Hofmann.

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