UW-Eau Claire track and field competes at Conference Championships

    With Nationals three weeks away, men’s and women’s teams show what’s to come against conference competition

    More stories from Deanna Kolell


    Photo by SUBMITTED

    (From left) Ashleigh Buergi, Claire Fischer and Kelsey Worachek cross the finish line in the 100-meter dash.

    At this time in the outdoor track and field season, the points matter quite a bit, serving as a marker in the race toward Nationals.

    UW-Eau Claire competed against the seven other teams in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference meet over the weekend in Platteville, with most preliminaries taking place on Friday and the finals on Saturday.

    The men’s team took fourth with 93 points and the women’s team took second with 154.50 points.

    Sophomore Claire Fischer, a sprinter on the team, said at this point in the season, everyone is competing at their peak, fighting for a spot on the podium. However, being a part of a team that has some of the best sprinters in the nation gives her confidence in her abilities.

    “I look up to all of them because they maintain such a large presence on our team,” Fischer said. “When they know someone is hurt or isn’t mentally ready for a race, they don’t just focus on their races, but instead, help you feel better.”

    Fischer competed in the 100-meter dash, along with junior Kelsey Worachek and junior Ashleigh Buergi. Worachek took second with 12.15 seconds and Fischer took third with 12.26. Buergi followed in sixth with 12.36.

    Worachek also went on to run a 25.44 in the 200, taking fourth place. Seniors Jessie Reineck and Jess Rupnow also ran the 200, scoring first and third with times of 24.49 and 25.42 respectively.

    Reineck also took first in the 400, running a breakneck race at 55.63. She was followed closely by Rupnow, who took second place with a time of 56.16.

    Fischer, Reineck, Worachek and Rupnow all came together to take first in the 4×100 meter relay with a time of 46.73. Fischer said their time puts them first in the nation, but they will still work on the mechanics, such as handoffs, to lower their time even further.

    Reineck and Rupnow went on to participate in the 4×400 with juniors Sarah Glidden and Ashleigh Buergi. They also took first place with a time of 3:45.80, which was more than seven seconds ahead of second place and 0.04 seconds faster than their previous meet, where they were ranked first in the WIAC.

    The women’s team also represented Eau Claire in the field events, scoring in multiple events. Glidden took first place in the high jump, clearing 5-05, and sophomore Erica Oawster continued her strong performance in the discus. She took first place with a throw of 154-08.

    In addition, junior Amber Harris represented Eau Claire in the heptathlon and took third place overall, exhibiting strong performances in the 800 and long jump.

    Harris said she was proud of her performance over the weekend, following an indoor season which “did not go as (she) had hoped.”

    “The most difficult part of the heptathlon, in my opinion, is having an ‘on’ day in every event, as well as not letting the previous event take out your competition momentum,” Harris said. “It’s crucial to not let the other events negatively affect the performance of the next.”

    Meanwhile, the men’s teams competed in the decathlon, and freshman Michael Amerlan took fifth overall. Amerlan exhibited some strong performances, especially in the high jump, 400 and 100, where he took first with a time of 11.10.

    Like the women’s team, the men also performed well in the relays. Senior DJ Meagher, sophomore Brandon Christnovich and freshmen KJ Munn and Aaron Zmolek ran the 4×100 in 41.76 to take third place.

    Christnovich and Zmolek went on to compete in the 4×400, and along with freshman Hunter Henk and senior Jimmy Paske, taking first place with a time of 3:13.86.

    In addition, the men’s team continued to demonstrate depth in the middle and distance races. Freshman Kyler Lueck and senior Ryan Graham scored second and third in the 800, running times of 1:52.46 and 1:53.83, respectively.

    Lueck went on to score first place in the 1500 with a time of 3:50.67. He was followed by senior Matt Cooper, who ran a 3:53.92 to take fourth place.

    The Blugolds also dominated in the 5000. Junior Darin Lau ran a blistering time of 14:13.21 to take first place. Lau was 34 seconds ahead of his teammate senior John Vodacek, who took second with a time of 14:47.72. Senior Nick Petersson followed close behind at 14:57.78 to take fourth.

    Lau said his time was a personal record by 11 seconds and his first conference title. Since he likely won’t race again until Nationals, he will focus on completing his workouts in the upcoming weeks. However, Nationals is “already in the back of (his) mind.”

    “It’s really cool seeing how our distance guys are coming to form this outdoor season,” Lau said. “It’s very realistic that we’ll have national competitors in the 800, 1500, 3000 steeplechase, 5K and 10K, which would definitely be the first time since I’ve been here, and I’m guessing the first time in school history.”

    The men’s and women’s track and field teams will compete Thursday and Friday, May 11-12, at the North Central Last Chance in Naperville, Illinois and the La Crosse Last Chance on Friday.

    Visit Accurace Timing for a full list of men’s and women’s results.