JOSEPH — Ellyse Tingelstad had a solid freshman campaign for the College of Idaho women's cross-country team.
Tingelstad, the former state champion track standout for Joseph, was named an all-American by placing 33rd overall and was the top runner on the C of I women's team, which finished second overall at the NAIA National Championships in April in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, behind only St. Francis (Illinois). Tingelstad completed the race in a time of 18:31.55, and was among three Coyote athletes to garner all-American status. Her effort puts her in the top 25 for national placings in program history.
"Grabbing all-American means a lot," Tingelstad said. "It's one more thing to confirm you have improved this much, and the hard work in this long season has paid off."
"Weird" was a word Tingelstad used to describe the season on multiple occasions, noting how the season started in the fall, but rolled into the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She added that as cross-country ended, she went straight into track — and even at times was practicing for indoor track and cross-country in the same day.
"It's been hard balancing things, but I have a super awesome team," she said. "Coming down here and being able to run with (these) girls and always having people to train with is great."
It capped a season that saw her quickly emerge as one of the top runners for College of Idaho — if not the top. After taking fourth on the team in a 3K at Eastern Oregon University in November, and second behind teammate Erin Moyer at a home 4K in early February, Tingelstad became the tip of the spear for the Yotes. The team often ran in a pack, but the freshman ended up leading out at the end. She led five C of I runners who finished between second and sixth at the Lewis and Clark Winter Invite in late February, posting a time of 17:46 to help the Yotes easily win the meet.
A month later, she turned in the same time and took third overall at the Cascade Collegiate Conference championships to help lead C of I to an easy conference title. Four Coyote runners placed in the top 10 at the meet.
"The biggest thing I can attribute (my improvement) to is having those girls to train with," Tingelstad said. "When we are given a race plan we are told we are running together. ... We're all just as good as each other."
The amount of mileage she put in each week also increased, and Tingelstad said building her foundation helped improve her endurance and time during that first season.
"A big thing has been a shift in training to do a little more volume. I am running a little more than in high school," she said. "Both coaches (in high school) were strong on low mileage. Having a little more base under me has been helpful. … I actually cross-train twice a week, and only run four days a week."
At nationals, Tingelstad competed against 325 other runners, and according to a C of I article on the meet, was the first CCC runner to break the tape. She finished just 7.23 seconds shy of breaking into the top 30. She also was the fourth-fastest freshman in the field.
She said the course at nationals wasn't bad, but it was muddy terrain that also featured thicker grass, and as a result, the race was more challenging.
"It was a hard race. And everyone would agree with that. It's hard to put into words," she said.
Tingelstad has carried the solid freshman campaign to the track too. On April 30, she ran a leg on a winning 4x800-relay team that won the Buc Scoring Invite in a time of 9:19.70 — a time that qualified the quartet for the national meet. She also took third in the women's 5K at the meet in a time of 18:16.55.
Even though she is in Caldwell, Idaho, a couple hundred miles away from home, Tingelstad said her family, former coaches and teammates are among those who have been in contact with her.
"The support from home, even being away has been impressive," she said.
With Tingelstad's all-American effort, the Coyotes did something they had done only two other times in history — notch three all-Americans in one season. The 2012 and 2013 teams both accomplished the feat, according to the C of I website. Those teams, like this season, went on to place second at nationals.
And C of I only loses one senior in the top five from this squad, and two from the top seven, which means the Yotes — led by the former Joseph standout Tingelstad — could be a contender for quite a while.
"We've got a few pretty good freshmen coming in that might help us out," she said. "We're always going for that No. 1 spot."