Augsburg senior track athlete Ashley Carney thought the most memorable part of Monday night would be receiving an award as the school’s top female athlete of the year in an individual sport.
Instead, she received the memory of a lifetime.
She knew that longtime boyfriend Rick Wolke, a former Augsburg runner who graduated last year, had bought an engagement ring. But she had no idea that he would make up an excuse (work function) for not being at the Auggie Awards event … create an elaborate plan involving dressing up in an Auggie Eagle mascot costume … and propose to her right after she received her big award.
“I bought the engagement ring back in February. I had it for a few months, and I was getting frustrated. I didn’t know how to propose,” Wolke said. “I was almost to the point when I was going to start carrying it around with me for whenever the moment came.”
But that’s when inspiration struck. He e-mailed some athletic department contacts at Augsburg, and they loved the idea. Everything came together quickly — fast enough that Carney didn’t suspect anything.
“Randomly one day he said he had to stay late for work and couldn’t come to the award ceremony,” she said. “But I wasn’t going to question anything.”
As is the case with most things in life — including marriage — the actual proposal required some improvisation. The timing was off, and Wolke ended up chasing Carney down, still in the eagle suit, as she came off the stage.
“He walks down the steps and starts running across the front of the stage and he takes the [mascot] head off and everyone is like, ‘Rick is in the suit!’ ” Carney said. “I remember shaking my head, saying yes a lot and crying.”
Said Wolke: “When she saw me, I could tell she was already in shock.”
The two met through the Augsburg track team and have been dating for 2½ years. They’re hoping for an end-of-summer wedding, but for now they are still retelling their engagement story.
“She was definitely surprised,” Wolke said. “Everybody was surprised.”