Senior Amy Andrushko epitomizes the personal record-breaking culture around the Bison track and field program.
Amy Andrushko arrived at North Dakota State to an already loaded group of middle distance runners. With athletes like NCAA Championship qualifier Paige Stratioti and Summit League champion Faith Kruchowski running the same heats, all Andrushko could do is focus on her goal of eclipsing 2:10 in the 800-meter.
The Manitoba native had a long ways to go after her first outdoor college race in Riverside, California, in 2014. She clocked a 2:13, 800-meter, which would have been good enough during her redshirt season, but she was striving to be faster.
The outdoor season progressed that spring and slowly Andrushko’s times began dwindling. At the Summit League Championship meet that May, she scooted closer to her season goal in the preliminary race by clocking a 2:11.36. She was onto the final and she had one more shot at the elusive 2:10 mark.
Andrushko was joined by her conference championship-winning teammates Stratioti and Kruchowski in the finals.
“I can still picture the race,” Andrushko, who is now a senior, said. “We’re on the back stretch and Paige just went for it, and then Faith just went for it, then I went for it.”
The NDSU trio finished 1-2-3 in the race. A clean sweep of the podium, even though no one at the meet thought it was possible with a young runner like Andrushko in the mix.
The redshirt freshman finished third. She crushed her goal by running a blazing 2:09.62.
“I still remember finishing that race and coach Ryun (Godfrey) being like, ‘You just broke 2:10!’” Andrushko said, raising her voice in excitement as she relived her goal-crushing performance. “It hit me that we have the power to be so tired, yet still come out and run incredible times.”
What Andrushko is referring to is the Bison culture that’s produced 18 consecutive conference championships. The track team’s ability to rise and display their best in the big moments when titles are on the line is uncanny. No one in the Summit has been able to produce their best performances when they feel the pressure like the Bison.
Andrushko doesn’t know if the word motivation is the correct term to use when describing NDSU’s consistency. There might not be a way to explain the drive and desire these Bison athletes gain when they train with their fiercest competition at practice every day. Being surrounded by future Olympians and past NCAA Championship contenders surely helps the other runners.
Third-year head coach and longtime Bison assistant Stevie Keller has also helped by putting runners like Andrushko in situations to become successful. You don’t have to look far into the Bison schedule to see when they match up with runners from the University of Nebraska and Texas Tech like they did at the Adidas Classic in February.
“Stevie is getting us into those big meets, especially last year when we went to New York,” Andrushko said. “It makes you mentally and physically tougher. Especially mentally, just knowing that you can actually race against these people.”
The women’s track team will head to California multiple times this outdoor season. They’ll be pitted among the best in the country as they prepare for their 10th-straight Summit League title.
Andrushko is now a three-time 800-meter Summit League champion and goes into the outdoor season as the event’s back-to-back champion. For fun, she extended herself this winter and ran one 1,000-meter race and ended up breaking the school record on her first try. She plans on coming back to dominate the 800-meter at the conference championship meet.
Andrushko’s goal of running under 2:10 is a thing of the past as she’s now hitting that mark consistently in every race. In 2015, Andrushko set her personal best at 2:08.18 and now smiles when she hears that mark to go along with her individual Summit League titles.
The goal is to still get faster, said the fifth-year senior. She knows it’s now or never as her career quickly comes to the finish line.