UW-Eau Claire cross country season in review

Each year is made up of memorable moments, and this season was no exception

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling



Reflecting on the UW-Eau Claire cross country season, Coach Dan Schwamberger said the team had a lot to be proud of this year.

After the cross country season ended last week following the NCAA Division III National competition, runners like Nick Petersson felt grateful for the bittersweet moment.

“It was everything I could’ve hoped it was,” Petersson said. “It was a super fun time just coming to practice every day.”

Petersson had fond memories of the season, especially racing with his training group made up of Matt Cyra and Patrick Treacy. At the Blugold Invite, he said they ran step-by-step together.

The realization of the end does not seem real to the senior since he will continue running, participating on the distance team in track led by cross country coach Dan Schwamberger. He will be around many of the same faces and although the terrain will be different, he will still be running competitively.

Every season comes with highs and lows. For the cross country team, however, it has been mostly highs.

The men finished the season ranked third in the nation, fulfilling their goal and having three All-Americans on the team.

Darin Lau, Nick Petersson and Patrick Treacy all finished within the top 35, securing individual titles. For Petersson, he is happy to achieve this honor his last year on the team.

Schwamberger said he was extremely impressed with how the men came into the season. He said they could have put a lot of pressure on themselves after winning the National Championship in 2015, but they calmly approached the season and had fun.

The women’s team also faced challenges this season. Front runner Mel Becker came down with mononucleosis (or mono) and could not continue the season as planned. Schwamberger said the women could have given up then, but they persisted and finished to the best of their abilities.

“There are always going to be things like that that happen and you can either put the hat on and be like ‘oh, why us’, and be disappointed and have that affect you,” Schwamberger said. “The main thing was realizing, hey, yeah this is unfortunate but we are still a team and we have a lot of other great runners.”

Among the female runners, Sam Slattery stood out to Schwamberger as a great part of the women’s team. She improved each race and finished at regionals in 23rd, coming in with one of the fastest times for a first-year runner on the team.

Another athlete who improved was Kyler Lueck, a first-year runner on the men’s team. Lueck didn’t see himself running this year until Schwamberger encouraged him to give it a try.

Lueck finished eighth for the Blugolds at the WIAC Conference meet and ran his personal best, learning a lot from his first semester running in Eau Claire.

“You have to be willing to keep your options open, never truly quit on something unless you know for sure that it is not for you anymore,” Lueck said. “With cross country that was the big thing, I thought I was going to quit on something and my parents and family and coach Dan kept telling me, ‘keep your options open because you could be good at it and you just may not have something in your past that made you not want to run again.’”