UW-Eau Claire track and field teams compete at first outdoor invitational

    Women’s and men’s teams take third and fourth at the Ashton May Invite


    Photo by SUBMITTED

    Claire Fischer (left) and Kelsey Worachek (right) compete in the 100-meter dash at the Ashton May Invitational on Saturday.

    Saturday marked the beginning of UW-Eau Claire’s outdoor track and field season as both the women’s and men’s teams competed at the Ashton May Invitational at UW-La Crosse.

    Out of the 13 teams, the women’s team won a close third place with 96 points. Meanwhile, the men’s team took fourth out of 15 teams with 58 points.

    Although both teams placed well at the meet, head coach Chip Schneider said it’s not his biggest concern this early in the season.

    “I’m really not worried about the team’s scoring as much as making sure the individual athletes are running the races they need to make sure that they’re as fast as they can and as healthy as they can be late in the season,” Schneider said. “So if that means we lose a meet or look a little worse than we’re supposed to … I’m okay with that early in the season.”

    Despite the fierce competition, especially from La Crosse, both the women’s and men’s team had standout performances. Schneider said Eau Claire is part of the toughest conference in the nation in Division III track and field, which can push athletes to work harder.

    The women’s team demonstrated strength and depth in their team, particularly in sprints and field events. Junior Kelsey Worachek and sophomore Claire Fischer scored third and fourth in the 100-meter dash with times of 12.13 and 12.21 seconds respectively.

    Then, along with senior Jess Rupnow, Fischer and Worachek won three of the eight scoring places in the 200. Fischer took fourth at 25.17; she was closely followed by Worachek, who took fifth at 25.23 and Rupnow, who took eighth at 25.44.

    Rupnow also pulled out a close win in the 400 with a time of 57.13. Junior Sarah Glidden followed close behind at 59.39 for sixth place.

    Starting the outdoor season with a win was motivating, Rupnow said, and set the stage for what she hopes to accomplish later in the season: Win her first individual All-American title.

    “My goal in the 400 is to be top eight in the nation,” Rupnow said. “Then as a team, I definitely would like to trophy. We have the potential to win for the first time.”

    The women’s team continued their strong performance in the field events, scoring in almost every event. Senior Stephanie Frempong-Longdon took second in the triple jump with 38-31/2 and sophomore Tommie Brener took third in the pole vault, clearing 11-73/4.

    Eau Claire also continued to score multiple times in the same event. Sophomore Erica Oawster and junior JoHannah Theisen took second and third in the shot put with throws of 43-05 ¾ and 43-051/4 respectively. Oawster went on to score second in the discus throw as well with 138-08.

    The men’s team continued this trend in the 400, where three Blugold athletes scored. In a tight race where second and eleventh place were within one second of each other, freshman Kyle Groven took third at 50.10, sophomore Brandon Christnovich took fourth at 50.29 and freshman Hunter Henk took seventh at 50.77.

    As evidenced by the 400 results, Coach Schneider said the men’s team has a number of young, talented sprinters this year. Freshmen Aaron Zmolek and KJ Munn competed in the 100 and qualified for finals with times of 10.84 and 10.91 respectively.

    However, neither Zmolek nor Munn competed in finals. Because there were three rounds of the 100, Schneider said rather than risk fatigue, he decided his athletes would not run a third time if they got the opportunity.

    “I just want to make sure they’re not getting so many races under their belt early in the season that injuries become an issue for us later,” Schneider said.

    The men’s team yielded strong performances from its seniors as well. In the 1500, senior Matt Cooper took third with 3:54.73, a time 0.3 seconds out of second place.

    In addition, senior Matt Dietlin scored third in the high jump by clearing 6-6 ¾. Dietlin also scored seventh in the pole vault, clearing 15-07 ¼ and setting a Blugold outdoor school record in the process.

    However, not every success is measured by place. While being a team sport, track and field also challenges athletes to compete against themselves. Senior DJ Meagher competed in the 100, a competitive race where first place and 27th place were within one second of each other.

    Although he didn’t place in the 100, Meagher said he’s optimistic about future meets based on his personal record of 11.08.

    “(It) gave me a confidence boost for what’s coming next,” Meagher said, adding he plans to improve his race strategies in his longer races. “I plan on focusing on what has worked for me in the past and stick to that race plan. If I focus on what other teammates or competitors do, I will never find what works for me personally.”

    The track and field teams will compete at the Platteville Invite this weekend. The 5K and hammer throw will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 13 and the remaining events at 10:30 a.m. on Friday. Here, Eau Claire will run athletes in the 5K, 10K and relays for the first time this season.
    For the full list of results from the Ashton May Invitational, visit PrimeTime Timing.