Track and field team defies the elements in Minnesota

Story by Emily Gresbrink

The men’s and women’s outdoor track teams competed at the Easter Invitational at Winona State University (Minn.) on April 22, where the men’s team finished second out of ten and the women’s team finished fifth out of nine.

Assistant coach Dan Schwamberger traveled with the Blugolds to WSU and was pleased with both teams’ performances.

“We had some good results,” he said. “It wasn’t a good day for fast runs but it was still a good prep for conference.”

Senior Arabin Lightfoot said the weather was a reason for the slower runs.

“It was rainy and cold outside. It made for a hard day to run on the track,” he said.

Freshman Jacob Dennis-Oehling said that considering the weather, the teams still performed well.

“We did fairly well, but it’s hard to run in the cold and rain, yet we still beat schools we usually lose to,” he said. “It can be hard to motivate yourself in (bad) weather and win.”

Men’s Team
UWEC finished with 113.5 total points for a second place finish behind UW-La Crosse (with 197) and just under 10 points above third-placed Augustana (S.D.). There were 11 total finishes of fourth place or better throughout the meet.

Dennis-Oehling won the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.01 seconds and took second in the 200-meter dash with 22.46.

Lightfoot finished second place in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.52 seconds.

“I don’t think I could have run as fast as I could, given the weather,” he said. “But I’m determined for (conference) … none of my events will be easy and I have to focus (on them).”
In the field, the Blugolds had three finishers in third place. Junior Tyler Genovese took third with a toss of 48.14 meters, hitting a provisional qualifying mark in the discus throw, while senior Kirk Schmidt took third in the triple jump and junior Joe Lilek was third in the shot put.

Lilek said his throw was the best he’s had this season. He added that the team is now starting to get in their qualifications for Nationals and up their performances for the WIAC Conference Championships next week at UW-Platteville.

“Everyone wants to go to Nationals,” he said. “But realistically, with relays, it would be nice to get 15 to 20 men to Nationals and get a team score, which is hard to do.”
Dennis-Oehling added that attitude will be a factor in the upcoming Conference meet.

“We have to go in confident,” he said. “Things happen, but we have to cheer on the team and do your best in all your events.”

Women’s Team
The lady Blugolds finished the day with 72 points, taking fifth, while Division II Winona State (Minn.) scored 190 points for the win. Augustana and UW-La Crosse finished second and third, respectively. Overall, there were eight finishes of fifth or better.

Senior Kelly Palmer won the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:34.95 and sophomore Ashlyn Mauer also took a first place rank in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 17:36.62.

Palmer said she did well in her run, but could still improve her times.

“The race felt good, but I know I can run faster, compared to last year,” she said. “I still did well, but I know I can improve.”

In the 5,000-meter run, three other Blugolds finished in the top six.

Senior Maria Peloquin finished in fifth place in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:44.54 and the 4×100-meter relay team took fifth overall with a time of 51.89.

In field events, freshman Kayla Simon finished in fifth place in the high jump with a leap of 1.51 meters and junior Brittany Frederick took second in the discus throw with a distance of 46.36 meters. This throw ranked high enough to be a NCAA Division III Championship automatic qualifying mark.

Schwamberger said the team will travel to various relays this upcoming weekend, but all of the team’s work in early meets will contribute to Conference and Nationals.

“Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive, but in order to stay successful … the main thing now is getting in and competing well,” he said. “The time and place will take care of itself.”