Blugold runners approach championship season

The UW-Eau Claire cross country team prepares for WIAC conference meet

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling



Erika Owens won the Lowes Creek 5K last Friday and will be running at the WIAC Conference meet this week.

Some seasons seem to last forever, while others go by in the mere blink of the eye. For the UW-Eau Claire cross country team, the season is over halfway done and the upcoming competitions will only make it more exciting.

The WIAC Conference meet will take place this week at Stevens Point on Saturday, involving high-ranked teams including Eau Claire and UW-La Crosse. This will be the first championship meet of the season.

The Eau Claire men’s team is currently ranked fourth in the nation, La Crosse seventh, and the the Eau Claire women’s team is ranked 33rd.

At conference, there are 12 runners who represent each school. The following week at the regional meet, the top seven runners compete for each team. If the team makes it to Nationals, the same seven runners race again.

Dan Schwamberger, head coach of the team, said the men’s team is looking for the win Saturday but they cannot underestimate La Crosse.

“They are one of the better teams in the nation, so that will be good to race head to head with them and see how it works out,” Schwamberger said.

The coach said he is also interested to see how Platteville competes. They have not seen the whole team yet this season, and one of their runners, Ian LaMere, is predicted to place high in the race. Last year, he won the cross country national title in Division III with a time of 23:36, setting a national record.

The women are looking to place within the top two teams. Schwamberger said Oshkosh is very comparable to the Blugolds and La Crosse is favored for the meet.

Matt Cooper, senior runner on the team, said they have never competed on the course before but Schwamberger said it is similar to the Oshkosh meet, which the team ran several times. He said he is hoping to earn All-Conference honors by working together with his training group. This award is given to the top 20 finishers in the race.

Sam Slattery, sophomore runner on the team, said she is excited for the meet and it is important to believe in themselves and trust their abilities.

In general, Cooper and Slattery said the team is both excited and nervous for the upcoming meet.

Last Friday, several runners competed at Lowes Creek County Park. Most of these runners will not be running at the conference meet, but will compete the following week in Platteville for the Gender Equity Invite.

Friday’s meet invited UW-Stout for a race with totals of 22 and 18 runners in the women’s and men’s races, respectively.

Senior runner Erika Owens won the race for the women with a time of 19:37, in front of sophomore Hanna Reed and junior Katie Carlino. On the men’s side, junior Matt Schrupp won the race with a time of 16:03.

Owens and Schrupp will also race at conference.  

The WIAC Conference meet will be at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday October 29 in Stevens Point.