Last evening I received a call from Paul Mullen, a college roommate and teammate from both cross country and track. He works in Development for my alma mater Luther College. He wanted to reach out because he is super excited about the upcoming Reunion of Champions event being held this weekend in Decorah, Iowa. The event has attracted more than 130 former track and field athletes from 30 years in which Luther won the IIAC Conference Track Championship 26 times.
Things have changed quite a bit on that campus since the era when we competed for Luther. A beautiful bright blue all-weather track now forms the oval around the equally blue artificial turf of the Luther football field. There is an indoor track facility as well.
Back when we trained for track and cross country the surface was made from crushed red gravel and clay provided by a local quarry and mining company. On rainy days the lanes would flood with long puddles of water and the grass approach to the steeplechase pit would grow soggy. But we loved it all just the same.
We ran around that oval for four years and put in some pretty fast times in both cross country and track.
Roomies and teammates
My roommate Paul Mullen was a multiple time conference champion in track and once tied for the conference title in cross country. He also placed seventh in the steeplechase at nationals.
My freshman year teammate and roommate Keith Ellingson was conference champion in cross country and ran track before pursuing a college career in golf, at which he also greatly excelled.
My senior year roommate Dani Fjelstad is considered one of the all-time greatest performers in Luther track and field with multiple conference championships. His abilities ranged from 800 meters up to 5000 meters and his mile times was near 4:10.
The other member of our Gang of Five ’79 CC captains was Steve Corson, a speedy half miler and miler who missed out on All-American status by one place while leading our cross country team to a second place in the NCAA Division III championships in 1978.
We had many great times together along with all our other teammates from different classes, backgrounds, abilities and interests. That is why we’re gathering to celebrate the legacy of our era and more than 30 other years of track and field champions through the ages. I treasure these connections and these friends, and expect to make a few more.