Mudd’s state track records still standing

Center Grove’s Austin Mudd still holds state boys track records at 800 and 1,600 meters.  Scott Roberson
Center Grove’s Austin Mudd still holds state boys track records at 800 and 1,600 meters. Scott Roberson

Austin Mudd’s level of fascination with technology and the world outside his own comfortable circle is summed up by the flip phone he carries with him.

In other words, any legendary status the Center Grove graduate achieved running track in his home state is now property of the record books he helped rewrite.

The soft-spoken Mudd, 28, who earned every right to sing his own praises after taking down two supposedly unbreakable records at the 2011 state meet at Indiana University, will never be caught doing so.

Even a decade later.

“I was actually at a buddy’s wedding a few weeks ago, and we couldn’t believe it had been 10 years already,” said Mudd, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife Kara and the couple’s two German Shepherds. “Going into the meet, I was entirely focused on getting that 800 record.

“The 1,600 was to get some points for my team. But it just, like, happened. The race was over and it’s … wow.”

Wow indeed.

Mudd put on one of the greatest displays by a boys athlete at an event that dates back to the 1903-04 school year. The senior started his day running the 1,600 in a time of 4 minutes, 3.0 seconds to best the 4:04.20 standard set by Rudy Chapa of Hammond High School in 1976.

A little over an hour later, Mudd dominated his specialty, the 800, in a time of 1:49.25, eclipsing Evansville Memorial runner Tom Martin’s clocking of 1:50.20 from 1977.

Just like that, two standards conjuring up images of grainy black-and-white film footage catching the accomplishments of athletes sporting long hair and longer sideburns were erased.

“It was surreal, to tell you the truth. We knew it was going to be a warm day, so we talked about the importance of hydrating,” longtime Trojans distance coach Howard Harrell remembered. “You think about the 1,600 first, and we knew it was between Austin and (Carmel senior Chris Walden), who took it out fast.

“Austin just stayed right with him and just let it loose the last 250 meters and kept pouring it on.”

Harrell’s initial concern was that Mudd exerted so much effort that he wouldn’t have enough in the tank to defend his 800 title.

“Then you see the time on the clock …” Harrell said. “After the (1,600) is over, Austin is smiling and be-bopping around, so I knew then he would be okay for the 800.”

Center Grove capped the evening by winning the 4×400 relay in 3:14.40 — still the second-fastest time in state meet history — to wrap up the team championship. Brandon Cothron ran the first leg, followed by Mudd and classmates Kyle Schwartz and Nick Stoner.

Stoner had a pretty good meet himself, also winning the 100- and 200-meter titles and anchoring the fifth-place 4×100 relay.

In the nine state meets since, specialists in the 800 have threatened Mudd’s time, the closest call being Shelbyville’s Daniel Kuhn clocking a 1:50.91 in 2014. Three years later, Mudd’s 1,600 masterpiece received a mild scare in the form of Hamilton Southeastern junior Gabe Fendel’s winning time of 4:04.70.

Mudd continued his track career at the University of Wisconsin, where he holds the school’s fifth fastest outdoor 800 time (1:47.52) and No. 4 indoor time (1:48.24). His 3:57.93 in the indoor mile makes him the third fastest Badger in that event, and Mudd is also part of the fifth and sixth swiftest indoor distance medley relay efforts.

These days, Mudd, who graduated from UW with an economics degree, works as a financial analyst at Aptim, a construction company that delivers engineering and construction services for large-scale projects.

He and Kara (Krugel), a former triple jumper and high jumper for the Badgers women’s track and field team, are hoping to start a family in the near future. The two met their freshman year while living two floors apart in the same dorm.

Mudd remains close friends with Stoner, though his contact with onetime teammates and coaches on the 2011 Center Grove state championship team has gradually lessened.

Nonetheless, it’s a day that remains special in so many ways.

“It’s tough to describe,” Mudd said. “But what stands out the most is that after we won state, we had maybe 10 guys in uniforms celebrating, but so many others in our program and community who came to watch. It was a perfect representation of what we were able to do.”