Track and field team patient after national championship

The men’s and women’s teams are preparing for their next meet to start their outdoor seasons.

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After winning back-to-back indoor track and field NCAA Division III National Championships, the men’s and women’s track and field teams have begun preparing for their outdoor seasons.

However, track and field coach Chip Schneider said they won’t be focusing on another National Championship run until the conference meet because it’s not about winning yet. He said it’s about getting healthier and better, mentally and physically.

However, the team will ramp up their training once May rolls around with nationals on the horizon, Schneider said.

Remaining healthy also includes avoiding injuries that can hinder a team’s outcome, which is one of the fears Schneider said he has because it can also hurt the team’s ability to show what they’re worth.

“You always fear that you’ll have a major injury and the team has to deal with it,” Schneider said, and it makes the season tough.”

One of the challenges, in terms of teams, is going into the outdoor meets against a team within their own conference, UW-La Crosse, because he said they see them not only at national meets but on a weekly basis.

However, Schneider said what keeps the team striving and overcoming this challenge is their motivation which has pushed them onto the national stage the past few seasons.

“It’s never tough to be motivated,” Schneider said. “Anytime you’re in a season this long, you know what to expect.”

Senior Nicholas Petersson said every race athletes go into, they deal with a bit of pre-race doubt and anxiety, but the motivation is easy to find.

“At this point, we all like being in the sport,” Petersson said. “A lot of us who have competed in nationals are upperclassmen … So I think we’re all still motivated; that’s just a continuous thing.”

This past March, Petersson was one of the individuals who placed at the national meet in the indoor 3000-meter run along with senior Josh Thorson and sophomore Darin Lau. However, he did not run cross-country nor indoor track last year because he was dealing with injuries, but is hoping to qualify for the 5000-meter run and 10,000-meter run this upcoming national meet.

Petersson said because he took a lot of time off last year, to come back this year and be part of two national championship teams has been awesome.

“I took about eight weeks off and had kind of a slow comeback to my old form,” he said “but just to stick with it, that’s probably what I’m most proud of in my running so far.”

With these successful meets, Petersson said he hopes they will keep the program heading in the right direction because he wants to keep the Eau Claire track and field team a great program to be a part of after he’s gone.

“I think the thing is that they’ve come in and have only seen the success, especially the freshmen,” Petersson said. “So I would hope that we’d set the tone for the next couple of years so they can continue it.”

For outdoor nationals, he said he hopes the team will win so they can obtain a triple crown, which is awarded to a team that wins cross-country, indoor and outdoor track championships in one year.

Last year for outdoor nationals, they placed second for men and women. Coach Schneider said the teams will be focused more on distance this year, as opposed to last year when they had more of a sprinting team.

Although winning outdoor nationals would be a great achievement for both the men’s and women’s outdoor teams, Schneider said he would like the teams to come out of these meets healthy and to feel like they did their best regardless of their time or marks.

Last year when the men’s team won for the first time on the indoor circuit, Schneider said he was just glad to win at least once. Now he said he feels as if the tables have turned and the team can continue to be a threat.

The men’s and women’s track and field teams will begin outdoor competition at 11 a.m. Saturday at UW-La Crosse as they participate in the Ashton May Invite.