Blugolds compete in Last Chance Qualifier
The UW-Eau Claire track and field teams hit the floor in competition over places in nationals at the Pointer Last Chance Qualifier hosted by UW-Stevens Point on Saturday. Both the men and women’s teams had finishers in the top three spots against schools in the UW System and nationally. Of the 15 events that took place, the men had five top finishers and the women had seven in the top ranks.
Of the seven top finishers for the Blugold women, juniors Jamie Arentz and Hayley Suckow were the two who walked away in first place in their events. Arentz took first place in the 3,000-meter run, finishing with a time of 11 minutes 21.80 seconds and Suckow took the top spot in the pole vault competition with a height of 3.71 meters.
Coach Dan Schwamberger said the meet went pretty well, but a number of athletes are waiting to find out if they make the cut to get into the NCAA Indoor Championship.
“Women’s 4×400 ran really well. I don’t want to jinx them, but they should be in for nationals,” Schwamberger said. “That was a really strong team, that should get them in.”
The women’s distance medley team took second place with a total time of 12:00.09, finishing just short of the first place time of 11:58.34.
Other top finishers include freshman Julia Baranek, who took third place in the high jump with a height of 1.57 meters; freshman Brittany Frederick, who took third place in the shot put competition with a distance of 13.19 meters; and sophomore Liz Amici came in third place in the triple jump competition with a distance of 10.92 meters, missing second place by one centimeter. The 4×400 meter relay team also took third place with a time of 3:56.38.
Senior Sam Johnson and the distance medley relay team led the Blugold men with first place finishes. Johnson, in the weight throw contest, overthrew second place by over four feet with a distance of 18.72 meters, and the distance medley relay team took first place with an overall time of 10:04.51.
The other top finishers for the men included junior Ben Pearson, who took second place in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 9:03.27, missing the first place mark of 9:01.03. In the 55-meter dash, junior Justin Janke crossed the finish line in second place with a time of 6.44 with senior Frankie Adams close behind with a time of 6.46.
“Our men distance won a qualifier, they finished first (with) the 11th fastest time in the country, but we’re right on the bubble,” Schwamberger said. “They’ll take 10 or 11 teams (for nationals), so we’re waiting to find out who’s on the national finalist list. That’s the best we’ve run all year.”
Schwamberger added that the women’s distance had a really good race with a good time, but are also the 11th fastest, forcing them to wait and see if they’ll get in too.
Though many athletes did well, some qualifying and some on the brink, others did not fair as well. The men’s 4×400 meter relay ran slower than they had wanted to and could not place. Senior Chris Kupfer and his team did not place high enough to qualify for the tournament next weekend.
“It was disappointing, really disappointing actually,” Kupfer said. “We went last year and placed at nationals, so were kind of expecting to go this year, but didn’t do as well as we hoped.”
Schwamberger said that even though many athletes didn’t qualify for nationals, the season isn’t over yet; meets for the outdoor season are set to start at the end of the month.
Next weekend the qualifiers representing Eau Claire will face off in the NCAA Indoor Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., next Friday and Saturday. Events are set to start at noon both days.