Women’s track and field finish second, men fourth at conference

Story by Monica Baltich

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For the UW-Eau Claire men and women’s indoor track and field teams, this weekend’s WIAC championships, hosted by UW-Stout, was a typical meet, said head coach
Chip Schneider.

“We had good performances, average performances and bad performances on both the men and women’s teams,” he said. “When you have a large team like we do, that is pretty much expected. I was pleased with both teams but not satisfied.”

Men
The Eau Claire men’s track & field team placed fourth out of nine teams, its best championship finish since 2001.

Eau Claire earned 83.50 points overall, following UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater. They also picked up one event title.

Junior Tom Breitbach earned the championship title in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:57.86, which was over five seconds faster than the runner in second place. He said he was really proud of his team but knows they will have to build off of this to be in the top two next season.

The Blugolds left their mark on the indoor pentathlon competition by getting three competitors into the top five slots.

Senior Andrew Storsveen placed fifth in the pentathlon and was also selected to be on the conference all-sportsmanship team. He said even though they expected better than a fourth place team finish, he thinks it’s a really nice achievement and a reflection of a strong team.

“We have a couple of seniors who really stepped up to become leaders,” he said. “It shows the younger guys how it’s done and what it takes to compete at this level. It means we’re
showing progress.”

Schneider said he thinks the teams need to improve in every area in order to get higher rankings.

“We need to be a deep team that also has top performers,” he said. “That is the goal of any team that considers themselves potential champions, which is where we hope to be in
the future.”

Women
The women’s track and field team held their second place finish for the fourth year in a row at the championships this past weekend.

The Blugolds earned 130.50 points total, bringing them up just behind UW-Oshkosh’s 160 points. UW-La Crosse followed in third with a score of 108.50.

The ladies earned four event championship titles in the 5,000-meter run, 55-meter hurdles, 4×200 relay and the distance medley. They also picked up a total of 10 top-three finishes throughout the day.

“Anytime you have a conference champion, that is a good event,” Schneider said. “So having the conference champion women’s 4×200 and distance medley relay was good, but the result again was not unexpected.”

Freshman Kat Wesely was part of the 4×200 relay. She said the race was a surprise to her but was pleased with the result.

“It was unexpected because I wasn’t supposed to run the race, I had to replace a girl who got injured,” she said. “It was definitely a close race with La Crosse, a lot of pressure.”
Next Saturday, some of the Blugolds will compete in the Stevens Point Last Chance event to try and qualify for the NCAA championships on March 11 and 12.

Schneider said the team will continue to work this week with those who are competing to qualify for nationals. He said their approach will not change and that they “will work hard, but smart.”

Overall, Schneider was happy with the season but continues to look forward to the next season.

“The season has gone well,” he said. “Hopefully the indoor season will end on a high note and help us transition into the ‘real’ season, outdoor.”

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