It’s almost a wrap

UW-Eau Claire claims first in Platteville and looks to the regional meet this weekend

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling



The Gender Equity invite was unique because the men started their 8K race two minutes and 40 seconds before the women began their 6K race, with the goal of finishing around the same time.

Gretchen Berg can now say her cross country season is over for the last time. The UW-Eau Claire senior ran her last race of the season this past Saturday at the UW-Platteville Gender Equity Invite.

Berg finished first for the Blugolds, coming in fourth place overall in her 6K with a time of 24:08.

“I was happy with how I ended the season,” Berg said.

The runners not competing at the regional meet this coming weekend took part in their last championship event of the season at this meet.

This year was the first annual Gender Equity Invite. In past years, Eau Claire and Platteville attended Luther College’s JV Cup in Decorah, Iowa. Besides Eau Claire and Platteville, UW-La Crosse also competed at the event, and alumni were also invited.

The men ran alongside the women in this unique race.

The men ran their 8K as usual, but two minutes and forty seconds after they began their race, the women started their 6K. The course was designed so each race followed a similar route, and the finish would be competitive for both genders to conclude their respective races around the same time.

Racing conditions challenged runners like Berg to stay strong. The temperature approached 70 degrees and the race took place on a golf course, increasing runners’ perspiration due to the heavy sun. The race also took place a few minutes after the noon hour, when the sun is the highest in the sky.

Berg said many runners fell back because of the heat but she was able to hold through and stick with the pack in the front for the whole race.

Head coach Dan Schwamberger said he was happy with how the team did, especially with the heat. He said the times were not as fast because of it, but he was very pleased regardless.

Although not all the Blugold runners will be competing at regionals, they will continue practice and will have a 3K time trial Thursday and a mile time trial next week. Schwamberger said he hopes some of these runners will move up next year, and he wants both groups to finish around the same time.

This Saturday, the team will return to Oshkosh for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Regional Meet. There, teams like North Central College (Ill.) and Washington University of St. Louis could pose a challenge to the Blugolds. Schwamberger said he is excited to see what the team is capable of, now they have reached their peak.

In order to go to the national meet, Schwamberger speculated the teams will have to finish in the top four. The two top teams will automatically receive a bid to make nationals. The third and fourth teams will enter into an “at large” bid in which a committee looks at the last third of the team’s season and decides if they will go to the national tournament.

This event will be in Louisville, Kentucky. at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park with 32 teams competing from around the nation. Last year, the men’s team won the National Championship and the women took 16th place.

Schwamberger said if the women finish in fifth place at regionals, they could have a 50/50 chance of getting a bid to advance to nationals. If they finish in fourth, they will have a very good shot to continue. Currently, the team is sixth in the region.

“I think the women on a good day can improve on where they were last year at nationals, but first we have to get there, and that is the biggest thing,” Schwamberger said.