Cross country regional meet reveals Midwest competition

Blugolds look to finish strong at Nationals in Kentucky

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling



Morgan Marek is an individual qualifier for the women at the National meet. The women finished in fifth, just falling short of getting an At-Large bid.

In less than seven days, the 2016 cross country season will be a thing of the past for Division III runners across the country.

This weekend marks the start of the National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. The UW-Eau Claire men’s team looks again to appear on the podium by finishing in the top four after last year’s first place finish. Morgan Marek and Callie Fischer will be running for Eau Claire.

The NCAA Midwest Regional took place this past weekend in Oshkosh and the men’s team finished second, securing an automatic spot at the National meet.

The women’s team finished in fifth, behind UW-Oshkosh and UW-La Crosse. The third and fourth team finishers have a good chance in securing an At-Large Bid, decided by an NCAA committee, looking at the team’s performance during the last third of the season.

With a fifth place finish, the women had a 50/50 shot of getting one of these bids. Fischer, junior runner on the team said the team just fell on the wrong side of their chance.

“That is just going to give us motivation for next year,” Fischer said.

Coach Dan Schwamberger said although not everyone had their best races, he was still happy with how the women performed at regionals. The day was good, but not quite good enough, he said.

At regionals, Darin Lau finished in third place behind UW-Platteville runner Ian LaMere and North Central (Minn.) runner Zach Plank. The men finished 54 points behind North Central. On the women’s side, sophomore Morgan Marek finished in seventh and Fischer in eleventh position overall.

Matt Cyra, psychology student and runner on the men’s team will be competing for his first time at Nationals on Saturday. He said his race at Regionals was good and he was able to conserve most of his energy for Nationals. Finishing the race, he knew the team would be in second or third place.

Competition was close on the men’s side between Eau Claire and La Crosse, with a slim 13 points of difference between the Blugolds and the Eagles.

Cyra said he is very excited about the meet, and hopes to cross the finish line in the top 50. He said it would be even better to come in the top 35 and receive All-American Honors.

Looking back at the already traversed terrain, Schwamberger said he is pleased with both team’s progress. He remarked that the women could have thrown in the towel after Mel Becker, one of the top runners, got diagnosed early in the season with mononucleosis (a disease transmitted via saliva), but they fought throughout the rest of the season.

The season has come to an end for many of the runners, but they will not stop their training. The track season is getting started so most of the group will take a one week break or more depending on their bodies and how much rest they need; and before long, track practices will begin.

The D3 National Championships will be held on Saturday, Nov. 19 in Louisville, Kentucky.