Chasing UW-La Crosse

The UW-Eau Claire cross country teams took their running on the road as they competed in the UW-River Falls Invitational Saturday morning.

The women’s team finished third out of nine participating teams in the 6,000-meter race with a score of 88 points behind UW-La Crosse and UW-Stevens Point.

Although Eau Claire wasn’t able to break into the top 10 individual finishers, they were close as senior Alana Jenkins finished 12th with a time of 23:08. Senior Nikki Rendler followed just seconds behind her, finishing 16th with a time of 23:16 and freshman Jamie Warner placed 21st with a time of 23:30.

Rendler said while it was good to figure out how things were going as a team, it was also nice to run against WIAC opponents like first place La Crosse as a comparison.

“Their team (La Crosse) is still kind of young, but ours is definitely younger,” Rendler said.  “I think once some of the younger girls figure it out, we’re going to start creeping up on them. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out at conference, but they’re definitely the team to beat. “

The River Falls Invite was the first college race for some of the new faces. Sophomore Jamie Warner, who is new to the team this year, said she liked not having the pressure to improve because it’s so early in the season.

“It was fun. It’s just one of those things where it’s nice being your first one,” Warner said. “You don’t have anything to base it off of so you just go and get to run it and feel it out and have fun with it.”

The men’s team placed second out of six teams overall with a score of 35 points, losing by just two points to La Crosse. Eau Claire had four runners finishing in the top eleven.

Sophomore Ryan Mugan led the way, finishing second with a time of 25:15 over an 8,000-meter course. Junior Erik Rosvold followed in his steps, ending up in fourth place with a time of 25:30. Senior Matt Scott finished ninth with a time of 25:35 and sophomore Christian Leitner  finished 11th with a time of 25:37.

Rosvold said while it’s nice to improve on individual goals throughout the season, cross country is definitely more of a team effort on how everyone can get better together.

“Being an upperclassman, you want to be one of the contributors,” he said. “And the position I’m in right now as the second guy that might fluctuate throughout the year. But when it all comes down to it, it is about how I can run to help my teammates and what I can do for my team.”

Both teams will face the River Falls course again later in the season as they travel back for the conference meet at the beginning of November.

Head coach Dan Schwamberger said it was a good idea to get a feel for the course, especially since no one on the team had ever run there before.

“It was nice just to see the course,” Schwamberger said. “That was one of the main reasons why we went there. It’s nice to kind of know what to expect heading into conference.”

The teams will enjoy a weekend off before hitting the grind once again next weekend.