Meltons make Augustana Athletics more than a family
SIOUX FALLS, SD — For anyone who has spent time in the Augustana athletics community, it wouldn’t be surprising if the team can sometimes be described as “family.” This rings truer when the team even has family members on the team, like Noah and Taylor Melton.
Noah is a senior middle distance runner and Taylor is a sophomore distance runner.
Although they weren’t very close growing up, they both found Augustana to be the perfect place to pursue a bachelor’s degree, while pursuing their athletic careers.
Noah Melton didn’t plan to run in college or Augustana until an 800m race, his senior year of high school, changed his outlook on running.
“I remember running a 2:00 800m and going to see my trainer and talking about running in college,” Noah said.
Noah was an extra for the track team once he arrived in Augustana.
“I remember, I was going to train and I thought, my God, this is difficult and I was racing with people who were way better than me. I was racing with josh barrows and I found that you can kind of fall in love doing that. I also knew that I wanted to prove myself to the team.”
Barrows has seen Noah in many situations, competing with him in the first year of the Noah track team and then becoming his coach in the fall of 2020.
“When I knew Noah as an athlete, he was very shy, very quiet, not outgoing, but he bought into what the middle distance group was doing and wanted to work hard,” Barrows said.
Barrows took a year away from Augustana, earning his master’s degree in English rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University, before joining Augustana as an assistant coach.
“The year I was away from the team, Noah has become a different person, he’s almost a leader in his social interactions, he’s more talkative and engages with people during practices,” said added Barrows.
During the 2020 indoor season, Noah clocked a personal best of 1:20.41, ranking him second on Augustana’s all-time list, just ahead of his former teammate and current coaches school record.
Although Noah did not achieve the school record in the 600m, Coach Barrows was very proud of Noah.
“It’s something special for me because it’s my record and I wanted Noah to get that record.
“He’s a very big part of my group and I wasn’t surprised that he ran as fast as he did and I thought he would break that record, if it hadn’t been for an injury I think he would have passed it,” Barrows said.
When it came time for Taylor to look for a four-year school, she hadn’t given much thought to Augustana, mostly because Noah was there.
She was contacted by then assistant coach Scott Tanis to see if she was interested in Augustana.
Taylor assumes Noah had something to do with it, saying that Noah told Tanis that his sister was a good runner, and that maybe he should text her, which Noah quickly denied that such conversation took place.
Although Taylor enjoyed the recognition, she was still not sold to Augustana, with her older brother here.
“I didn’t want to follow Noah,” Taylor said.
It was after meeting the team that Taylor decided Augustana would be his home.
“I came on my visit and loved every second of it,” Taylor added.
Taylor’s freshman experience was unlike most, coming to Augustana in August 2020.
“I remember everyone making a big deal that there was no camp and then my second year, everything felt new because we had a camp that was even more exciting.
“I think the biggest thing is the culture, like Noah said, going to practice is kind of like falling in love with it,” Taylor said.
The Meltons have grown closer since Taylor arrived on campus.
“Noah’s presence helped me in my first year because I had a close relationship with the people on the track team. As I already had a good relationship with the cross country team while right away, but then I was introduced to Josh Schumacher and Tyl Woelbertwo very close friends of Noah, and I was like a little sister to them,” Taylor added.
The two even have classes together this semester, which they believe played a role in bringing them together.
Noah is a double major in English and Philosophy while Taylor is an Elementary Education major with a minor in Art. Noah experiments with Taylor’s classes, taking children’s literature and drawing.
“That’s awful,” Noah jokes, “I guess we kinda bonded or whatever they say I’d just say the teacher likes me a lot more than she likes him,” he said. continued Noah.
Although this is Noah’s last semester at Augustana, he still has a laid back attitude towards his future, the same attitude that brought him to Augustana, although his parents may be a bit more concerned about that attitude this time around. .
“I haven’t had that realization yet, but it’ll probably come here soon. I know it might hit me walking around campus and I’ll be like, oh my god, it’s my time, it’s all over now,” Noah added.
He then shared things that he will miss, like doing workouts, his house, his athletic trainer Jason RinnéTaylor chimed in and asked if he would miss her, to which he smiled and said no.
In addition to the Meltons, the Vikings have two sets of twins on the team. Rachel Raidon and Rebecca Raidonbackground team members in their fifth year at Augustana and Cole Berends and Luc Berendsfreshman sprinters at Augustana.
The Vikings open their away campaign this weekend at the Dordt Invitational on Saturday in Sioux Center, Iowa.
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