‘Golds pace themselves over weekend meet

A great day for running made for some fast times for the UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s cross country teams Friday in Colfax.

Under sunny skies and highs in the mid-70s, Eau Claire hosted the Blugold Open, and the men’s team paced themselves to a sixth-place finish out of 15 teams, while the women finished second out of eight teams.

“We had some higher expectations. We had hopes to finish higher than sixth place, but everyone ran fantastic races.”Nate Hall

The Blugold men finished with 142 points, far behind winner University of Minnesota-Duluth (Minn.), but just three points behind fifth-place winner St. John’s University. They finished second out of three WIAC teams at the meet, behind fourth-place UW-River Falls but far ahead of eighth-place UW-Superior.

“We had some higher expectations,” senior Nate Hall said. “We had hopes to finish higher than sixth place, but everyone ran fantastic races.”

The Blugolds were paced by sophomore Adam Wolfe, who ran the 8K course in 27:05, which earned him a 19th place finish overall. Nate Hall was the runner-up for the Blugolds, running a 27:09, good for 23rd, and freshman Kevin Hall was right behind, finishing 24th with a time of 27:11. Nate Hall said he motivated Wolfe to run faster, and was amazed with the result.

“(Adam) beat me for the first time,” Hall said. “I went up to him before the race and told him, ‘I dare you to beat me,’ and he was never behind me the whole race.”

While Minnesota-Duluth proved to be strong competition, running away with the race by finishing with only 43 points, Hall said it isn’t the first time the team has run against a Division II opponent, and doesn’t really alter the team’s

pre-week preparation.

“It doesn’t change how we prepare,” Hall said. “Most of the time we psyche ourselves against teams in our conference more. It’s just one of those things where we run against whoever is there.”

While the Blugold men were pacing themselves to the top half of their field, the Eau Claire women were continuing their string of fast races, finishing second of 20 teams.

Eau Claire posted three top 10 finishers. Sophomore Molly Warner finished fourth overall with a 23:25 finish in the 6K race, senior Rachel Anderson finished in sixth place with a 23:36 mark and senior Jane-Marie Ovanin’s 23:43 earned her a ninth-place finish overall.

The only team better than the Blugolds on Friday was UW-La Crosse, which finished with 52 points, far ahead of Eau Claire’s 80. Anderson said the second place finish was just as she had hoped for.

“It went as well as I could have asked for,” Anderson said. “We have pride involved with our course and we as a team expect to do well on that course. We hosted nationals on it last year.”

The Blugold women do not competitively run until Oct. 15 at the La Crosse Invite, and Anderson said the break comes at a nice time and gives the team relief in a couple of ways.

“Our two week break for the team will be a good physical break and a good mental break,” Anderson said. “It’s a good time to sit and reflect about what is to come.”

The Blugold men do not have to wait so long to run again; they race again at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Wartburg long/short invite in Waverly, Iowa.