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

Track and field outdoor season begins

Men’s and women’s teams place third at Ashton May Invitational
The Blugolds just started their outdoor season. There is still a lot to come. Photo by Colin McClowry from UWEC Track & Field used with permission.

The UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s track and field teams kicked off their outdoor season on Saturday afternoon in La Crosse at the Ashton May Invitational, with both teams placing third overall. 

It was the first meet the Blugolds competed in since the National Indoor Track and Field Championships back in March and coach Chip Schneider made it a goal for the teams to get back into the competitive spirit. 

“The goal was to compete today. Competing is important and it had been a while since many on our team have been able to do so,” Schneider said. “We just needed to get our feet wet again doing this, which may seem basic, but is essential.” 

A strong point of the competition for the Blugolds was the throwing team for both sides, where graduate student Yakob Ekoue won the shot put, discus and hammer throw events and third-year student Tommy Mestnik won the javelin event. 

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Ekoue picked up right where he left off in the indoor season after earning All-American honors in all three throwing events last year at the 2023 NCAA National Championship, including back-to-back victories in the shot put. 

On the women’s throwing team, third-year Kayla Behnke won the discus and hammer throw events, setting personal bests in the event after not being able to compete in the outdoor season last year. 

Schneider was pleased with the effort and performance of the throwing events but doesn’t want the team to be complacent in their efforts going forward. 

“It is nice to be able to rely on this group to produce each week,” Schneider said. “However, this doesn’t mean we can rest in other areas because the team will need more than just the throws to accomplish what we are hoping for in the outdoor season.” 

The Blugolds also showed out in the performance of the men’s 4×400 relay team of third-year Colin McClowry, fourth-year Josiah Ziebell, third-year Sam Schreiber and graduate student Kevin Eisenzimmer, who placed second in the meet with a collective time of 3:18.59s. 

The 4×400 men’s relay team is coming off a sixth-place finish at the Indoor National Championship Meet and is looking to improve on their placing in the outdoor season. 

Schneider has been impressed with the drive and determination that the relay team brings to the table, along with the chemistry of the group that has helped them head into meets against quality competition. 

“This group works well together and having each other pushing one another each day helps,” Scheider said. “They had a good opener in the open races this weekend, but also got a taste of just how difficult it will be to improve on their indoor placement as other teams also looked strong.” 

The team went up against some of the top teams in the WIAC Conference such as UW-Oshkosh, UW-La Crosse and UW-Stout on Saturday, and Schneider hopes that the team can focus on the things they need to improve on in future meets. 

“At this point, I hope our team is more focused on what we need to do to improve,” Schneider said. “We can’t determine how the other teams will perform each given week and if we do what we need to do to improve, I think we will be happy with the results.” 

The Blugolds will be traveling to Platteville this weekend for the Platteville Triangular Meet with the hammer throw and 5,000-meter run on Friday, April 12 and the rest of the events taking place on Saturday, April 13. 

Mikalofsky can be reached at [email protected].

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