Hometown star shines on the national stage

Cross country and track national champion opens up about his career and personal life

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling



Eau Claire native Darin Lau runs for the UW-Eau Claire track and cross country teams. He has won three All-American titles and been on the national champion teams for both groups.

Athletes abilities can be often times be observed from an early age. For Darin Lau, All-American and national champion in UW-Eau Claire’s track and cross country teams, the people around him might have seen he had a gift for running competitively.

Lau’s middle school did not have a track or cross country team, but that didn’t stop him. He ran for a different middle school during his beginning stages and began to run competitively around the age of 12, continuing to make strides ever since.

“It is a sport that you can control the variables, and if you put in the work, you will reap the benefits,” Lau said. “In sports, you cannot control as much as you can with running.”

Running at Immanuel High School Lau realized his potential in cross country and wanted to challenge himself by competing at the college level.

At the end of Lau’s high school career, he competed at the WIAA Division III State Cross Country race, finishing in second place. Then, in track, he impressed audiences again by winning the 3200 meter run at the state competition, and the next day coming in second in the mile.

To this day, he holds the 3200 meter run state record for the Division III high school level in Wisconsin and was one of the fastest mile runners at the high school level.

For Lau, motivation for running and staying in shape comes from within. He said he enjoys life more when he is physically fit. His family also encouraged him to get into the sport, seeing as his two older sisters and younger brother also run.

When Lau began scouting out potential universities and their cross country teams, it was head coach Dan Schwamberger’s training philosophy and the way he handles the team that made Eau Claire stand out from the rest of the pack.

“He makes it pretty easy to be successful because you have someone who is really dedicated to your success, like him,” Lau said. “I don’t have any regrets.”

He knew the men’s team was pretty competitive at Nationals while looking at schools and he said he thought he could help take the team far in terms of competitions.

Since then, Lau has competed on the National team, composed of the top seven runners for each team. In total, the men’s team has 24 participants.

Schwamberger said Lau’s tough mentality made all of these things possible for him.

“He is very well-rounded, but he is a quiet leader. He is everything you’d ask for in a athlete,” Schwamberger said.

The coach said Lau’s work ethic, positivity, toughness and witty humor all make him a great guy to have on the team. When other people see the effort he puts in, it motivates them and makes them stronger runners. He knows his body well and even with hard training, he still is able to progress.

The math education student runs year-round, including preparation for the fall cross country and spring track seasons. In track, the Lau participates in the 1500 meter run, the 3K, 5K and 10K races.

Lau’s hopes that over the rest of the season the team can repeat their successes from last season by standing on the podium at the National tournament by placing in the top four. He came in 14th place overall in last year’s race.

After college, he said he would like to do the Eau Claire and possibly the Boston marathons. Depending on future successes in the sport, he would like to pursue the Olympic trials.

Besides running, Lau enjoys playing Frisbee golf, watching other sports and hanging out with teammates. He also spends his time working at Erbert and Gerbert’s on Water Street.