Cross country runs strong

The UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s cross country teams posted strong finishes last Saturday at the Roy Griak Invite at the University of Minnesota.

The Roy Griak Invite is a cross country event that brings together runners of various ages and a wide range of competition. Schools ranging from Div. I collegiate teams all the way down to high school teams converged last Saturday to compete in a series of eight races that pitted schools of similar competition levels against one another.

“(Saturday’s) meet was a bit unusual,” Blugold coach Brian Falk said. “It included eight races, including five collegiate races.”

Women
Falk said the race in which the women’s team participated included 32 teams, all of which were Div. III schools.

The women’s cross country team came into Saturday’s meet with a record of 15-1 and ended up taking seventh place to improve to an impressive 40-7.

Finishing first for the women’s team was junior Molly Warner with a time of 23 minutes, 28 seconds. Warner was followed by seniors Christina Locke and Cassie Haak, who finished with times of 24:04 and 24:41, respectively.

Warner and Locke both finished in the top 20 and Falk said they exhibited the determination and commitment that is characteristic of both girls.

“Their commitment to their training throughout the course of their career is showing through,” Falk said. “They’re proving to be some of the best runners in this part of the country.”

“We had a lot of athletes do really well,” senior runner Kristin Seeger said, pointing to the achievements of Warner, Locke, and Haak. “Overall, it was a good building day.”

But Seeger said she thinks the women’s team needs to work on grouping themselves up rather than spreading out.

“I think we were a little too spread out,” Seeger said. “I think the women’s team needs to work on packing it up.”

Men’s
The men’s race included 52 teams and included a mixture of Div. II and Div.
III schools.

The team came into the race with a 12-5 record and finished in 20th place to improve to 44-24. Leading the ‘Golds was sophomore Kevin Hall, who finished with a time of 27:15. Coming in second and third place for the men were senior Ted Lillie, who finished with a time of 27:36, and junior Jules Miller, who finished with a time of 27:57.

“It was a pretty big improvement from last week,” Lillie said, adding the team still has a long way to go before getting where it wants to be.

The Blugolds have been training very hard the last two weeks, and it’s hard to race on sore legs, Lillie said.

“I think they’re doing great,” Falk said of the men’s team. “While these guys aren’t leading the field in every race they run, they’re still improving. I believe they’ll be a force to be reckoned with by the end of the season.”

But Falk also pointed out the greatest weakness of the men’s team – its
inexperience.

“We’re a very young team,” Falk said. In a roster of 24 men, only six are juniors
or seniors.

“The women and the men share the same philosophy,” Falk added. “We look forward to improving a little week by week. The team is working very hard and they’re developing every time they run and compete. Every time we compete, we just want to be sure we put forth a better team than the week before.”