Track and field fly to finish at NCAA Championships

    The indoor track and field team ended their season at the NCAA Indoor Championships

    More stories from Henry Erickson


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    The men’s and women’s indoor track and field team impressed at NCAA meet, each placing fourth.

    UW-Eau Claire’s  track and field team ended their indoor season in stride at the NCAA Indoor Championships over the weekend at Birmingham-Southern College, in Birmingham, AL. Both the men’s and women’s team had multiple podium finishes that led to the fourth place finish and fourth place tie, respectively.

    Being the biggest meet of the year, the stakes were high and the excitement even higher.

    Sarah Glidden, senior, said the team was excited because of how big of a meet it was and the fact that it was the last chance to compete in the indoor season.

    “We all had a lot of high expectations going into the meet,” Glidden said. “We were all expecting to perform well.”

    Glidden’s expectations were met as she went on to lead the women’s team on Friday with a first place finish in the pentathlon scoring 3,632 points, making her a national champion.

    The 4×400 team of Glidden, Ashleigh Buergi, senior, Lizzy Keena, first-year, and Glory Hecker, second-year sprinted their way to a time of 3:51.90, which was enough to earn them a spot in the finals. Mel Becker, senior, was able to secure a spot in Saturday’s final with a time of 4:57.27.

    On Saturday, Becker placed 10th in the mile (4:59.78). The 4×400 relay team of Glidden, Buergi, Keena and Hecker were able to reach the podium, finishing in third with a slightly faster time than Friday (3:50.70).

    Glidden said she was proud of how the first and second-year runners, Hecker and Keena, performed in the 4×400 as first-timers at the National Championship.

    “It is a completely new environment competing in the National meet compared to the regular season,” Glidden said. “We all feed off each other which makes it better when we are all together.”

    The feeling of excitement was mutual for both teams.

    David Kornack, junior, said the overall feeling throughout the team was excitement and that the intense week of practice beforehand was key for the team feeling really good going into the last meet.

    “Our goals were set high and everybody was pretty focused,” Kornack said. “We knew that we had a pretty good shot as a team.”

    Friday kicked off with Darin Lau, senior, working his way to third in the 5,000-meter (14:25.35). Dylan Cooper, second-year, started the heptathlon and ended the day in fifth place with 2,777 points.

    Both relay teams had strong showings as well. The distance medley team of Brendon Paucek, senior, Brandon Christnovich and Patrick Treacy, both juniors, and Dylan Lueck, second-year, finished in fifth place (9.58.65), earning them All-American Honors.

    The 4×400 team of KJ Munn, Dietrich Shwoerer, Hunter Henk, all second-years, and Jordan LIjewski, first-year, pushed their way to a time of 3:14.55, which was enough for a spot in the finals on Saturday.

    On Saturday, Lau placed fifth in the 3,000 meter (8:20.07), while Cooper took seventh in the heptathlon with a score of 4,984, which was enough to earn him All-American Honors. Kornack earned national runner-up with his shot put toss of 17.64m.

    The 4×400 relay team of Lijewski, Munn, Schwoerer and Henk placed fourth (3:15.42). Kornack said he was impressed with Lijewski’s performance as he was supposed to be an alternate until the injury of Aaron Zmolek, second-year, put him in the rotation.

    “There were a lot of guys that had great outings,” Kornack said. “He (Lijewski) really stepped up and split a great time.”

    The track and field team will have a short break before the outdoor season starts. The first outdoor meet is the Emory Classic in Atlanta, GA on March 23-24.