Track and Field finds success at championships

Story by Ashley Hofer

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Posted at 9:00 p.m. 3/1/10

With both individual and team success, it was a good weekend for Blugold indoor track and field at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships. At the meet, hosted by UW-Platteville, the women’s team captured second place overall, while the men’s team came home with a solid fifth.

Women

After finishing second in 2008 and second in 2009, history repeated itself as the lady Blugolds came home with another second-place finish this year at the championship meet. The team accumulated 119.5 points, while UW-La Crosse took first place – its fourth consecutive – with 166.5 points. The Blugolds barely edged out third-place UW-Oshkosh, who scored 118 points.

Although the goals was to beat La Crosse and take first, senior Hayley Suckow said beating Oshkosh was still a boost for the team.

“I’m happy with the team taking second over Oshkosh,” Suckow said, adding the Blugolds had even trailed the Titans by a few points until the 4×400 relay gave Eau Claire the advantage.

The women’s team earned two conference titles throughout the competition. Senior Hannah Humbach received first in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 10:23.19 minutes, while Suckow won the pole vault event, reaching a height of 3.73 meters.

Several other Blugold athletes had top finishes in their events.

 In the 3,000-meter run, sophomore Alyssa Sybilrud finished second with a time of 10:23.82. Sybilrud also finished second in the one-mile run with a time of 4:58.03.

 Humbach crossed the line right behind Sybilrud in the one-mile event with a time of 5:01.86, securing a third place finish.

 Sophomore Margaret Ho ran an 18:09.12 to earn a third place in the 5,000-meter run.

 In the 4×400-meter relay, sophomore Talisa Emberts, junior Corinna Saager, freshman Erin Schoenfelder and Suckow earned third with a time of 3:59.30.

 Emberts, Schoenfelder, Saager and sophomore Jordanne Greenup placed third in the 4×200-meter relay with a time of 1:45.37.

 Junior Kelly Palmer, sophomore Bridget Sarafin, freshman Taylor McMillan and junior Jenna Smith ran a 12:44.61 in the distance medley relay to secure another third-place finish.

Suckow said the team has a lot of youth, and she looks forward to seeing advancement during the upcoming outdoor track and field season.

“I feel like we’re a young team,” she said. “I’m excited to see what people can do.”

Men

Again matching its previous year’s effort, the Blugold men finished fifth out of nine teams at the championship meet. The team earned 90 points, whereas it scored only 85 in 2009.

La Crosse also claimed victory in the men’s competition, amassing 144.5 points for their eighth consecutive title. Oshkosh finished second at the meet with 141 points.

Sophomore Tom Breitbach said the fifth-place finish was on par with the Blugolds’ performance throughout the season. He noted, however, that UW-Whitewater finished with 94 points, just four points ahead of the Blugolds.

“Our proximity to Whitewater is a testament to our improvement overall,” Breitbach said.

Senior Chris Wirtz claimed a conference title in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 8:34.42. The time was two seconds better than the rest of the competitors.

Wirtz’s victory was a motivator, Breitbach said, as he had been injured earlier in the year. Breitbach said Wirtz ran one of the most exciting races of the meet.

“It was enjoyable to watch,” Breitbach said. “It focuses us on what we can do.”

Other high-placing Blugolds included:

 Junior Jae Erickson grabbed second in the pole vault with a height of 4.68 meters.

 Junior Patrick Keyes ran the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 7.76 seconds to earn second place.

 In the 5,000-meter run, Breitbach earned third with a run of 15:17.66.

Next weekend the men and women’s teams will compete in Stevens Point’s Last Chance event, where the athletes will have one final shot at qualifying for nationals.

Schneider said the Last Chance meet will be a great opportunity for improvement.

“(The goal is) to get better, to qualify more individuals to the national meet and to continue to stay healthy going into the outdoor season,” he said.

Breitbach said a last chance is exactly what the meet will be.

“The focus is for people looking at nationals to get one more race, take one last swipe,” he said. “There’s nothing to lose. The weekend’s a good time to take risks, see what happens.”

Some Blugolds have already qualified for the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships March 12 and 13 in Greencastle, Ind. One is Suckow, whose pole vault mark two weeks ago in the Platteville Open was good enough to advance to nationals.

Suckow said she has some mixed feelings as the big event draws nearer.

“I’m really excited, but I’m also really nervous,” she said. “I have the highest expectations for myself. I have goals, and I hope to reach them.”

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