Mason Wright was named an All-American, but he doesn’t quite like how it all happened.
The Polo native and Augustana junior is one of three members of the college’s track and field team to receive All-American honors for the indoor season.
Under normal circumstances, All-American honors come with a top-eight finish at the national championships, but thanks to COVID-19, the national championships were wiped out. Wright found his way onto the list thanks to qualifying for the meet that never happened.
“I appreciate this one, but I’m hoping that next year I’ll have the opportunity to get one that means more,” he said.
The national championships were set to begin March 13 in Greensboro, North Carolina, and teams and athletes were there getting in the last few practices when the plug was pulled because of the pandemic.
That wiped out not only the indoor national championships, but also the entire outdoor track season.
“It was heartbreaking,” Wright said. “We had just got done practicing at the venue when we were told we couldn’t compete anymore. My heart really felt bad for the seniors, especially since we had the No. 1 ranked 60-meter [runner Michael Johnson] in the country, getting ready to hopefully win a national championship.
“At least I have another year, and hopefully I can earn an All-American status.”
The last meet in which he competed was the conference meet February 29, in which he won the triple jump with a leap of 47 feet, 10.5 inches. He also took sixth in the long job, an event in which he was the conference champion in 2019.
“At St. Ambrose, which is one of our earlier meets, I jumped as far indoors as I have in my career,” he said. “So it looked to be going well, then I didn’t hit that for a while, I was struggling, but then at conference everything clicked. I just had good energy and I finally PR’ed.”
Wright credited some of that improvement to improved techniques under assistant coach Travon Aldridge, a former Augustana athlete himself who was a senior when Wright was a freshman.
“He helped me out a lot, because he was in the same position I was,” Wright said. “He helped differentiate me between long and triple jump and how to approach both of them.”
He hopes to get back. He already had one promising shot at placing at nationals slip away, but he will get one more shot in 2021.
Once he gets there, he will still be a reigning All-American, no matter how he got that title.
“I was thrilled,” he said. “I hadn’t heard anything in a month, so I just figured they weren’t going to do All-Americans this year. Then my coach told me on a video conference, and I couldn’t really believe it.”
Once things got called off, he took some time off to relax, but he is back working out now in preparation for his senior season.