The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Track and field finishes second at UW-La Crosse

The men’s and women’s track and field teams bounced back from a disappointing cancellation of the Blugold Open last weekend. Both teams took home second-place honors at the Phil Esten Challenge at UW-La Crosse Friday. The host school beat both Blugold teams, though the women came within 18 points of their rival.

Five female athletes earned first-place finishes – junior Liz Kooistra in the 200 and 400-meter dashes, sophomore Hannah Humbach in the 1,500-meter run, senior Liz Faller in the 100-meter hurdles, sophomore Hayley Suckow in the pole vault and junior Alicia Schuelke in the high jump. Faller also took second in the 400-meter hurdles.

“All of the events were pretty decent,” Humbach said, “nothing spectacular.”

Finishing behind Humbach in the 1500-meter run was junior Mary Palmer, who took third in the race.

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Distance coach Dan Schwamberger said the meet was a success for his athletes.

“We had a really good day on the distance side,” he said.

Besides the 1,500-meter performances, Schwamberger said the women’s 10K race was especially exciting. Senior Amber Hertz won the event with a time of 38.53, which set a personal record by approximately 30 seconds, Schwamberger said. Four teammates followed in close succession — freshman Molly Woodford in second, junior Jamie Arentz in third, junior Ellie Lutz in fourth and junior Julie Meis in fifth.

“It was really neat to see us go one through five in that event,” Schwamberger said.

Two male distance runners also set personal records in Friday’s steeplechase – sophomores Ben Pearson, who took third place, and Max Renner in sixth place.

One Eau Claire athlete said the rain doesn’t bother him at all. Senior thrower Al Oleson said he actually enjoys throwing in the rain because he feels it gives him an edge over opponents that “pysch themselves out.”

“I think a lot of people get scared when it’s raining, but it’s all mental,” Oleson said.

Schwamberger said the cool, rainy conditions are actually ideal for distance runners, too, though the sprinters suffered a bit.

“You never know if you’re going to get good conditions so you just have to race in what you have,” he said.

Despite the rain, three Blugold men swept individual events: Oleson in the shot put, freshman Logan Koerten in the long jump and senior Brian Christ in the 400-meter hurdles, whose time of 55.13 was a personal record. Three more Eau Claire hurdlers also placed in Friday’s meet: sophomore Corrie Floyd, freshman Dan Koenig and freshman Shane Dawson placed fifth, sixth and eighth, respectively.

The men’s 4×400-meter relay also won at the meet. Sophomores Tim Braunschweig and Justin White joined Christ and junior Rob Wilcox who ran together to earn first-place.

Braunschweig said while the 4×400 team didn’t have a lot of competition at Friday’s meet, it was good to get another race under their belts.

“We’re just trying to get some more races for outdoor,” Braunschweig said, citing several meet cancellations in the last few weeks.

Schwamberger agreed that it was great to finally complete a meet, so the runners can prepare for conference.

“It always seems like it takes a few races to get into the season,” he said. “(We’re) really starting to get to the heart of the season.”

Besides Oleson’s first-place finish in the shot put, he also took second in the hammer throw, while teammate and junior Sam Johnson took third in both events. One other male fielder also placed high on Friday – senior Matt Crosby took second in the javelin throw.

Even if the rain hindered the team’s times, Oleson said competing in the rain is good preparation in case big meets are plagued with poor conditions.

“It’s definitely good to get a meet like this in,” Oleson said, “in case it rains at conference or nationals.”

Next weekend, the teams will split between the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, the Gina Relays in Hillsdale, Mich., and the UW-Oshkosh Open.

The purpose of splitting up the team like this, Schwamberger said, is to place all the athletes in the best possible position to earn a nationals-qualifying time. The relays at Hillsdale – a meet for distance relays – and Drake – a meet for sprinter relays – for example, will give the teams a higher level of competition than the Oshkosh meet, where most of the team will compete.

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