The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Blugolds indoor track team stands tall despite sitting many key players

Blugolds show up towards the end of the UW-La Crosse Invite
The Blugold men and women’s track teams huddle up. Photo used with permission from Dan Schwamberger.

The UW-Eau Claire Blugold men’s and women’s indoor track and field team demonstrated strong resilience despite resting many of their key runners at the Mark Guthrie Legacy Invite in La Crosse on Saturday. 

“Today we didn’t run any of our distance crew,” coach Chip Schneider said. “This is a week that typically all of our distance kids take a week off of actually racing. That’ll make things a little different.” 

As a result, the Blugolds would face tough competition from both UW-La Crosse and Division I school UW-Milwaukee. 

“We knew that they would be formidable in their competitions,” Schneider said of the Panthers. “It’s always a step up when you’re going against a division above you.” 

Nonetheless, this adversity would not stop certain Blugolds from achieving career milestones, such as second-year Nathan Johannsen, who would gain his first collegiate first place finish in the men’s 800m dash (2:00.45).

“To have a breakthrough race in college where you actually see a victory is a big step for anybody,” Schneider said. “The hope is he takes that and builds on it.” 

Meanwhile, the women’s team would win the pole vault event, with fifth-year Ayden Fleeharty taking home first by a couple of centimeters (3.77m). With this result, Fleeharty has possibly secured a spot in the national meet, according to Schneider. 

It would not be until the end that the Blugolds would take home first place in the final three events. The Blugold throwing team would sweep the podium in the first two events, the men’s shot put and the women’s weight throw. 

In the shot put event, fifth-year Yakob Ekoue (18.79m) would be the first-place recipient, with fourth-year Adam Strouf (17.91m) coming in at second, and third-year Gage Stankiewicz (16.41m) finishing in third place.

For the women’s weight throw, fourth-year Raina Stecher took first (18.30m), with second-year Kayla Behnke (17.93m) being the runner-up and fourth-year Teagan Jones (17.69) close behind her. 

“One of the strengths of our team right now is our throwing crew,” Schneider said. “They’re an amazing bunch, they work their tails off to be where they’re at. They are definitely showing that they’re one of the best throwing groups in the nation.”

The Blugolds came close to doing so a third time in the final event, the men’s weight throw, with Ekoue (18.98m) and Strouf (17.39m) coming in first and second place respectively. 

The next invite for the Blugolds will be the UW-Stout Quadrangular this Friday, Feb. 9 at the Johnson Fieldhouse in Menominee.

“The biggest thing for us is just to stick to what we’ve been doing,” Schneider said. “We’re working to get to our peak, we’re not at our peak by any means.”

Teske can be reached at [email protected].

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