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

    ‘Golds to compete at Nationals for first time since 1997

    While the UW-Eau Claire men’s cross country team had finished running its last meet of the year Saturday, the Blugold women’s cross country runners were having no such outcome.

    The Eau Claire women finished fourth of 39 teams at the Div. III Regional Meet, hosted by Greenville College (Ill.). In doing so, they qualify for the Div. III National Meet Saturday in Delaware, Ohio, their first appearance on the national scale since 1997.

    Leading the pack for the Blugolds was sophomore Molly Warner, who statistically ran her best race of the year, finishing in 22:01 for 15th place of 260 runners. Warner has made it a habit of being the top Blugold finisher; out of seven team events she has run in, she has been the fastest Eau Claire runner six times.

    Also having a personal-best time for the Blugolds was junior Korah Petrasko, who finished 28th overall with a time of 22:30. Rounding out the top finishers for Eau Claire were senior Rachel Anderson’s 40th-place time of 22:51 and senior Cassie Haak’s time of 23:06, which earned her 53rd place. Haak said the flat course made it fun for people to root for their teams.

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    “The weather was beautiful, a perfect day, the course was flat, (and) we basically did three to four laps (around the course),” she said. “It was great for spectators because people were about to cheer for us all the time.”

    Eau Claire finished with 194 points. Claiming first place at the meet was Washington University (Miss.) with 40 points, followed by WIAC rivals UW-La Crosse and UW-Stevens Point with 99 and 125 points, respectively. While the goal of the team was to reach Nationals, the procedure of getting there was the same as any other meet, Haak said.

    “Going into this, we’ve been wanting to make it to Nationals for a long time, so it was a goal of the team the whole season,” Haak said. “Our mindset is pretty much the same every meet: you go out, and you know what you have to do, and you give it all you’ve got that day.”

    Qualifying for nationals was just the latest accomplishment of this season’s record-setting team. The team’s 121 victories are the second-most in school history, trailing only the 1997-1998 team, which had 145. The Blugolds also have the second-fewest losses ever, behind the 1985-1986 team, which had six.

    While the women now are preparing for Nationals, the Blugold men cannot make the same claim. They finished 19th of 34 teams at the Div. III Regional Meet at Greenville College Saturday, ending their season.

    Eau Claire finished with 554 points, and La Crosse’s 42 points earned it the top spot. Oshkosh followed with 79, and North Central College (Ill.) finished in third place with 140 points.

    Freshman Kevin Hall was the top Blugold runner, finishing the eight-kilometer race in a time of 27 minutes. His time was good enough for 99th place overall and was followed closely by sophomore Jules Miller, whose 27:01 earned him 100th place. Rounding out the top finishers for the Blugolds were junior Ted Lillie, who earned 111th place with a time of 27:13, and senior Nate Hall, who earned 114th with a time of 27:18.

    “We had hopes to run better than we did, and we were disappointed in that we got beat by a couple teams in the conference that we wanted to beat,” Nate Hall said. “No one ran a poor race, but nobody ran a great race either.”

    While he was looking for a quick start individually, Hall said the end result was not what he was looking for.

    “What I wanted to do was go as hard as a couple and hang on,” he said. “I wanted to go 4:50 or 4:55 (per-mile pace) and hang on to that as long as I could . I got out at five minutes and I tried to hold on, but it didn’t go as well as planned.”

    While his running career at Eau Claire is over, Hall knows the team will bring back a lot of talent for next season, and he feels the work ethic of the younger runners will carry the team.

    “I respect these young guys; they put in a lot of miles, and they know what to do,” he said. “We had a great freshman class this year, and our sophomores were just as strong.”

    Saturday’s women’s meet is slated for 11 a.m.

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    ‘Golds to compete at Nationals for first time since 1997