By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Chris Saladin, a recent graduate of Thomas Jefferson, has agreed to join the track and field and cross country programs at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.
He was an all-state performer in track and cross country for the Cavaliers.
“I really like it up there,” Saladin said Thursday as he was returning to Joplin from a trip to Rock Island. “It’s just a very good school in general.”
As a senior, Saladin placed fifth in the 3200 meters at the MSHSAA Class 1 Track and Field Championships in Jefferson City. Last fall, he captured first team all-state honors and placed 25th in the Class 1 Cross Country Championships.
As a junior, Saladin placed ninth in the 3200 at the state meet and earned second-team all-state recognition. His personal bests include 10 minutes, 30 seconds in the 3200, 4:51 in the 1600 and 2:12 in the 800. He earned nine varsity letters in track, cross country and soccer.
“I come from a smaller school and a small team,” he said. “The team up there is much bigger. It will be interesting for me to transition from being at a small school. A lot of their runners are from the Chicago area. They’ve all run at bigger schools.”
He is the son of Dr. Mark Saladin and Dr. Sarah Saladin of Carthage. He was a member of Thomas Jefferson’s high honor roll and the National Honor Society.
Saladin competed for Thomas Jefferson’s state champion Scholar Bowl team as a senior and won the school’s Head of School Award. He plans to major in pre-law and classics.
Augustana has won 16 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin outdoor track and field championships, including 12 under current head coach Paul Olsen.
Olsen has guided the Vikings to 17 top-10 finishes — 13 outdoor and four indoor — in NCAA Division III track and field. He also heads the cross country program, which has 11 top-10 finishes.
Saladin got off to a fast start when he won the 3200 meters on March 28 in the Bulldog Invitational at Galena, Kan. He then won the 1600 and was second in the 800 on April 16 at the Pierce City Eagle Invitational.
On the day before, he was third in the 3200 in the C.J. Bulldog Relays at Carl Junction behind winner Ryan Beaver of College Heights and Garrett Wood of Neosho.
He said the competition he faced in Southwest Missouri helped him prepare for college competition.
“Definitely, especially Garrett Wood and Ryan Beaver,” he said. “Those meets were when I ran faster times.”