Strong start for indoor track and field

Story by Nate Beck, Staff Writer

The UW-Eau Claire women’s track and field started the indoor season on a high note, cruising to victory over UW-Stevens Point at the UW-Eau Claire Triangular Saturday in the McPhee Physical Education Center.

Men’s track placed second, narrowly losing to UW-Platteville at their own indoor premier.

The Eau Claire women led with 232.83 points, easily besting Point’s 127.66 and UW-Platteville’s 81.5.  Men’s track couldn’t quite catch Platteville’s 186.5, scoring 163.  Stevens Point men finished with 87.5 points.

Men and women’s track and field head coach Chip Schneider said the quality of their opponents made their performance more meaningful.

“Platteville looked good in some areas and I imagine we’ll battle them quite a bit throughout the year,” Schneider said.
The Blugold women won nine events at the triangular – three in the field and six on the track.

Megan Mulligan and Steph Rouse, both 2012 All-Americans, each claimed first place finishes.  Rouse scampered to a win in the 800-meter run, clocking in at 2:19.73.  Mulligan followed suit in the 200-meter dash, with a winning time of
26.64 seconds.

“I think we’re growing closer as a team so that’s helping us come into a meet with confidence,” junior jumper Haley Ahler said.
Eau Claire men won seven events on Saturday.

Thurgood Dennis won five All-American trophies last season as a freshman and started this season off with a bang, winning the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.64 seconds.

Roger Steen, an Eau Claire sophomore, earned two wins for the men in the shot put and the weight throw, tallying a 16.29 meter toss in the weight throw and a 15.71 meter lug in the shot.

Main competition for both the men and women’s track programs will come from UW-Oshkosh and UW-Lacrosse later in the season.

“Oshkosh is pretty stacked in the throwing department,” Steen said.

Schneider is in his eleventh year coaching the men’s track and field program and in his seventh for women.  Blugold track and field hopes to continue to rank among the top ten track programs in the nation.

“Our goal is to be at the top of the conference when the conference meet comes around and to qualify as many people to nationals as we can,” Schneider said.

Blugold track and field is full of young faces.  Many key seniors graduated last spring. But don’t confuse them as a rebuilding team.  The young teams are not without talent, Schneider said.

“We don’t have really big senior classes, so we’re going to have to ask our younger people to grow up really quick and contribute,”  Schneider said.  “We definitely have some really capable young people that can fill the spots of those who left.”

The Blugolds will travel to Menomonie on Saturday to face UW-Stout in the Warren Bowlus invitational.