Striding into the season

    Blugold cross country opens the season this past weekend with alumni meet

    More stories from Meghan Hosely


    Photo by SUBMITTED

    The Blugold women’s cross country team runs in a tight pack at the beginning of their race at the annual Blugold Alumni Meet this past weekend.

    Over the past weekend, the Blugold cross country teams opened up their season in Eau Claire at the alumni meet in Lowes Creek County Park.

    The meet was exactly what it sounded like, head coach Dan Schwamberger said. Current athletes on the men’s and women’s team competed against alumni of the program. The men’s course spans 4.25 miles; while the women run a 5k.

    Schwamberger said although this meet is listed on the schedule and is a part of the Blugold’s season, it’s more of a way for current athletes to meet alumni.

    “(The alumni meet) is kind of more of a fun atmosphere,” Schwamberger said. “We kind of look at it … as a great first workout. It’s probably the most challenging course we run on all year.”

    Both the men’s and women’s teams captured the top spots this weekend. On the men’s side, senior Ryan Mugan claimed first with a time of 22:22. The first Blugold to cross the finish line for the women’s team was senior Clara Williamson. Williamson came in second with a time of 19:52.

    Schwamberger said the alumni meet is always the first meet of the season on purpose. He said it’s like a “dress rehearsal” for the upcoming season.

    “It works out perfect that it’s our first chance to get into a racing situation,” he said. “But at the same time it’s very controlled. It works out great every year to have the alumni meet kick off the season like that.”

    With the first meet under their belts, Schwamberger said it seemed as if the freshmen had a better understanding of what a collegiate race looked like.

    “We definitely had a couple of freshmen who came up to me after the first race and said to me, ‘Wow, I definitely went out a little too hard and paid the price the last mile,’” the head coach said. “The more you race, and the more competitive situations you get into, the more you learn and the more prepared you are for upcoming races.”