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

Mitch Stegeman named Athlete of the Week by USTFCCCA

The Indoor Track and Field Athlete is Nationally Ranked
Stegeman is a nationally ranked athlete. Photo used with permission from Dan Schwamberger, UWEC Cross Country/Track & Field.

Mitch Stegeman has been awarded The US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association athlete of the week after a record breaking week. This is the first time this award has been given to a male UW-Eau Claire athlete since 2020. That record went to Cooper, a heptathlon athlete. After an incredible season, with a record breaking past and what Stegeman describes as recording breaking plans. 

Stegeman, a fifth-year finance and management student, has an long history with track and athletics. At Coleman High School Stegeman was a member of the football, basketball and track teams. 

Stegeman was set on going to UW-Eau Claire and initially reached out to the basketball team. When he received no response he tried head coach of the track team Chip Schnieder and began practicing. 

“[Head coach] Chip was very excited to know that I was coming here and looking around on the recruitment list, I fell into track,” Stegeman said. 

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Stegeman said he sees the teams strengths lie within their competitive drive and hard work. 

“Everyone is here because they want to be and they truly love it,” Stegeman said.

Stegeman said the league has with competition increasing. UW-Eau Claire has come to great success in recent years. The team is nationally ranked and the level of competition has grown. 

“The level of competition and skill at Division III level, all the events have just gotten extremely harder to qualify for nationals and it’s been interesting and fun to watch the gap between Division III and Division I. It definitely feels like it’s been shrinking over the last couple of years,” Stegeman said. 

The competition levels are tied to the growth of the team in Stegeman’s eyes. The 120 men and women roster has seen serious growth. Stegeman discusses how his high school team was less than 20, and this larger team inspires him. 

“Everything is pretty serious about it and they love it and they’re really dedicated to it. It’s like these are the best people in the nation,” Stegeman said.

Stegeman said his past seasons have faced challenges with his freshman and sophomore years being impacted by covid- 19, and injuries plaguing his junior year. Yet his success has not been prevented. Stegeman has returned and managed to create a bigger success. 

With the changes comes higher hopes for the team, and higher goals for the upcoming students. Stegeman talked about his hopes for the younger runners on the team. 

“If I can put in the minds of our freshmen that by the time you’re senior, by the time you’re leaving Eau Claire shoot for a national record. Maybe you don’t get it, but maybe you come really close and you win nationals,” Stegeman said. 

Stegeman said the team’s mentality has led to a better team that won’t stop winning. The team is nationally ranked, with a high quality roster to follow. 

At the UW-Eau Claire Triangular, held on Jan. 20, Stegeman placed first in pole vaulting. He is ranked first in the nation for heptathlons after the Warrens Bowlus Open on Jan. 27. Stegeman is consistently ranked in the top spot. The team overall placed third at the UW-La Crosse invite on Feb. 3. 

Stegeman said that success is important and how he hopes to continue it. 

Stegeman said, “But at the end of the day,  we’re a national title team and every year we go to nationals with the hopes of winning. And if you’re not on the train, the train get run you over.”

Stegeman hopes to continue growth, with record breaking dreams in the future. 

 “I want to win the national title in heptathlon and I want to break the national record. If I go to nationals and I break the national record and get second,” Stegeman said,  “I wouldn’t necessarily consider my season a failure because I came in with that number in mind. And if I achieved that, that number, that’s all I really care about.”

The indoor track teams season will continue with a competition on Feb. 17 at UW-Oshkosh, then competing in the WIAC Championship on Feb 23-24. 

Leick can be reached at [email protected].

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