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

    Cross country team prepares for home meet

    Renee Rosenow

    The UW-Eau Claire men’s cross country team is currently ranked No. 34, according to the Oct. 13 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll. The team will be competing in its second, and final home event of the season tomorrow, Oct. 24.

    In the team’s first race, it left UW-Whitewater victoriously, taking first place out of 10 teams. Junior Chris Wirtz ran away with the lead, took first place overall in the event and finished 18 seconds faster than the next racer. Four other Blugolds finished in the top 10. Senior Jules Miller, fifth, junior Brent Kann, seventh, senior Andy Warren, eighth, and sophomore Tom Breitbach, ninth, all helped the Blugolds reach their best finish as a team of the season thus far.

    Two weeks later, the men’s cross country team competed in two races, approximately 300 miles apart. The group of racers who finished well in Whitewater traveled to St. Paul to compete in the University of Minnesota Roy Griak Invite, while a smaller group of 12 racers traveled to Beloit to compete in Beloit College’s Olde English Invite.

    In Minnesota, the men took sixth place out of 31 teams competing. Miller, Kann, Warren and Breitbach once again led the way for the Blugolds. In Beloit, freshman Brian Riley took ninth place overall as Eau Claire took second place of the six teams competing. Junior Ben Pearson took No. 13, junior James Marsh took No. 15, freshman Kenny Fillbrandt took No. 17 and sophomore Jake Ring crossed the finish line five seconds after Fillbrandt, taking No. 18.

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    “I think we’re coming around,” Miller said. “We’re still a young team but we’re improving a lot. Some of the young guys have made some improvements and I think that will be big in a couple years.”

    The Blugolds then returned home for the Blugold Open and took third place of the nineteen teams competing. Miller took seventh place overall, and led the way for Eau Claire. Wirtz, Kann and Warren all finished in the top 20 as well. Despite the strong finish, the Blugolds still fell in the national rankings. The team was ranked No. 24 in the nation before the Blugold Open, but dropped to its current ranking following the race.

    On Saturday, Oct. 18, the men’s cross country teams traveled to West Salem to compete in the UW-La Crosse Drews/Neubauer Invite. The men entered the Invitational with a 62-19 overall record. The Blugolds finished No. 13 out of 25 teams, their lowest finish of the season. The Blugold’s score of 270 was only two points higher than No. 12 Hamline (Minn.) and 184 points higher than first place UW-La Crosse.

    Leading the way for the Blugolds once again was Kann, Miller, Wirtz and Breitbach.

    “I think that this year could be a definite break through,” Miller said. “The WIAC is a very good conference. We’re going to have to race our best if we want to make a name for ourselves.”

    Much like the men, the Eau Claire women’s cross country team is nationally ranked; however, the women are ranked much higher. The Oct. 15 USTFCCCA polls ranked the Eau Claire women’s cross country No. 2 in the nation. The high ranking comes the season after the team finished eighth in the nation.

    “Obviously we care,” senior Mary Palmer said in an interview following the Sept. 13 race in Whitewater. “I think it puts pressure on us, but a good amount of pressure. We know it’s not going to be a cake walk this season, and this is something that will push us forward towards obtaining our goals.”

    The women competed with the men in Whitewater, and also took first place. Leading the way for the Blugolds and taking second place overall was Palmer. Other top 10 finishers for the Blugolds include junior Hannah Humbach, who took fourth place, sophomore Beth Easker, who finished in seventh place, junior Elly Prunty, who crossed the finish line eight seconds later in eighth place and sophomore Molly Woodford who took tenth place.

    Like the men, the women also competed in the University of Minnesota Roy Griak Invite on Sept. 27, however, they did not compete in Beloit.

    In Minnesota, the lady Blugolds took first place out of the 36 teams that competed. Leading the way once again were Palmer, Prunty, Easker, Humbach and freshman Alyssa Sybilrud.

    The next competition for the women was the Blugold Open, the team’s first home race of the season. The Blugolds took third place out of 16 teams that raced. Five of the seven Blugold runners finished in the top 20 of the 244 racer field – Sybilrud, No. 11, Woodford, No. 12, junior Jenna Smith, No. 14, senior Beth Lutz, No. 19 and senior Ellie Lutz, No. 20.

    The Eau Claire women’s cross country team tied for fourth place on Saturday in West Salem. The finish improves the Blugolds’ record to 77-5-1 on the season. Leading the way for the Blugolds and finishing seventh overall, was Palmer. Eau Claire had three other runners finish in the top 50. Humbach took No. 26, Easker finished No. 27 and Sybilrud took No. 43. Just missing the top 50 was Ellie Lutz, who took No. 51.

    Both of the Blugold cross country teams will return home to race in the Lake Wissota Meet on Friday, Oct. 24.

    “We’re all in great shape and we have a great coaching staff,” Palmer said. “Everyone works so hard; it will be exciting to see where we go from here.”

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    Cross country team prepares for home meet