Men’s cross country freshmen take top four spots

The men’s cross country team ran the youngsters on Friday in their meet against UW-River Falls, and the Blugolds ended up with the top four finishers, helping them to a victory. Freshman Tom Anderson won with a time of 16 minutes, 44 seconds.

“He has a running chance at varsity,” coach Scott Steuernagel said. “It’s too early to tell who will advance to the varsity team.”

Eau Claire ran mostly their younger runners, along with a few recovering injured athletes as they competed against River Falls varsity and junior varsity teams.

“We do this once a year,” Steuernagel said. “It was five kilometers, the same as they run in high school. It was a developmental meet. The goal is for them to learn the training system, to fit into the team, and to have fun.”

The freshmen were happy with how they performed.

“We showed River Falls what we can do,” Anderson said. “It was great to run together. We’re going to have to be reckoned with in a few years. They’re a great bunch of guys.”

On Saturday, the men’s cross country team will travel to Minneapolis to compete in the Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course. Nationally ranked teams including No.1 La Crosse, No. 4 Oshkosh and No. 13 North Dakota will be competing at the meet.

“This is a middle of the season mark,” coach Steve Steuernagel said. “We’ll see where we’re at.”

Eau Claire is now ranked 21st in the NCAA Division III Men’s Cross Country Poll.

“It’s great,” Steuernagel said. “They worked hard. They put the time in during the summer. Most didn’t miss a day. They were running seven to 10 miles a day in 90 degree weather.”

The athletes see a different side of it.

“The coaches like it,” sophomore Jeff Burkart said. “It’s nice to see where you stand. It doesn’t mean anything though. Paper can’t run the race for you.”