Outdoor track and field looking ahead to nationals

Story by Rita Fay, Staff Writer

The UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams split up and competed this past weekend in three separate meets in three different states.

The Blugolds competed at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa and the Gina Relays in Hillsdale, Mich., on Friday. On Saturday, they competed at the St. Mary’s University Invitational in Winona, Minn.

The Drake Relays showcased the 4×400-meter men’s relay team who won and ran a school record time of 3:08.31. Sprinters junior Jacob Dennis-Oehling, sophomore Cody Prince, senior Marty Richardson and sophomore Thurgood Dennis beat their 2012 time and beat the school record of 3:10.57 which was set in 1990.

They are now ranked first in NCAA Div. III. They also appeared on ESPN a few hours after the meet ended.

The highest finish for the women came from the 4×200-meter relay team. Sophomore Carly Fehler, freshman Jessica Rupnow, sophomore Megan Mulligan and sophomore Lindsey Laufenberg placed fifth with a time of 1:42.55.

Rupnow, who was injured for the indoor track season, said this was the first time the girls ran the race together and it was a good experience to get some practice.

“I think it went super well for the short time that we had to work on hand-offs,” Rupnow said. “I think it went good and it was just fun and an awesome experience.”

The Gina Relays featured senior distance runner Aaron Easker as he ran and won his first 10,000-meter run. He claimed a new school record of 29:33.37 and outran the second place finisher by only seconds.

“We were right next to each other the whole race pretty much but then I took the lead,” Easker said. “I could feel him breathing down my neck the whole time, so it was a good motivator and pushed me through the race.”

He is now ranked second in the nation in the 10,000-meter run as well as his usual event, the 5,000-meter run.

Senior Ashlyn Mauer finished fourth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at 10:37.98.

“I guess fourth doesn’t look that fantastic on paper,” Mauer said. “I guess I was happier with my time because it was an all-time personal record for me.”

Mauer said she was also happier with her time rather than the place she received because she was only seconds away from the two girls in front of her.

“It would have been nice to get them,” Mauer said. “But there’s nationals for that.”

She is now ranked fourth in Div. III.

Most of the Blugold team raced at the St. Mary’s Invitational. The men placed first in three different meets.

Junior Tony Floyd, with a time of 15 seconds, won the 110-meter high hurdles, Sophomore Roger Steen won the shot put with a throw of 15.52 meters. Jeffrey Quednow won the 5,000-meter race with a time of 15:47.52. It was Quednow’s first career race.

The women had one first place finisher, Sophomore Taylor Wirth, with a time of 1:04.80 in the 400-meter hurdle.

Sage Karl placed second in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.10 seconds.

The Blugolds will head to UW-La Crosse to compete in the WIAC championship this weekend.

“I’m excited to see what happens at the conference and even more excited to see what happens at nationals,” Easker said.

The meet will start at 12 p.m. on Friday and will continue at 9 a.m. on Saturday.