NAPERVILLE, Ill. (Blugolds.com) - The UW-Eau Claire men's track and field team had never claimed first at Indoor Nationals in a running event. On Saturday, they won two of them en route to placing third at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in Naperville, Ill., hosted by North Central College.
The third place finish for the Blugold men was good enough to win one of the four team trophies for the second time in as many years. The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference had a great showing, as all four trophy teams were from the conference. UW-La Crosse won the team with 74 points, UW-Oshkosh was second with 40, the Blugolds third with 37, and UW-Whitewater was fourth with 35.
Thurgood Dennis (So.-Allouez, Wis./Notre Dame) was involved in both of those first place finishes, as the sophomore claimed his first career individual national championship in the 60-meter dash with a new school record time of 6.76 seconds, breaking his own record he broke two weeks ago. He was also .01 seconds away from tying the all-time Division III National Meet record, but did set a new facility record. View Dennis Running in 60-Meter Dash
Dennis teamed up with Cody Prince (So.-Appleton, Wis./North), Jacob Dennis-Oehling (Jr.-Whitewater, Wis.) and Joe Makeever (So.-Appleton, Wis./North) to win the 4x400 meter relay in a time of 3:15.69, also a new school record. The Blugold quartet came into the meet seeded fifth and were placed in the heat with the slower qualifying times. They ran the entire heat by themselves and posted a fast enough time to win despite not going head-to-head with the top seeds. View the 4x400-Meter Team Competing | View Celebration
Roger Steen (So.-Luck, Wis.) had perhaps the biggest surprise of the meet, placing third while besting his seed by five places. His toss of 17.52 meters (57-5.75) beat his personal best by almost 0.3 meters and was good enough to earn his first All-American honors in his first trip to Nationals.
Matt Scott (Jr.-Kiel, Wis.) ran to a new school record in the mile run, placing fifth with a time of 4:10.01. It was his first National Meet and his first All-American placing.
After setting the school record yesterday in the 400-meter dash prelims, Prince ran the exact same time of 48.97 seconds to place sixth, claiming his second individual All-American honors after placing eighth in the same event last year. View Prince's 400-Meter Dash
Aaron Easker (Sr.-Eland, Wis./Wittenberg-Birnamwood) ran a packed-up and physical race to come away with a sixth place finish in the 5,000-meter run in a time of 14:32.91. Easker received All-American honors for the first time individually in track after garnering All-American status in cross country this past fall for the Blugolds.
Brandon Zarnoth (So.-Appleton, Wis./North) claimed eighth place in the heptathlon with 4,836 points. It is the transfer's first All-American honors in a Blugold uniform.
On the women's side, Erin Schoenfelder (Sr.-Antioch, Ill./Antioch Community) broke her own school record and placed fifth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.78 seconds. After grabbing the last qualifying spot in prelims yesterday, she moved up three spots to grab her first individual All-American for the Blugolds. Watch Schoenfelder Competing in 60-Meter Hurdles
Schoenfelder then ran with Jessie Reineck (Fr.-Green Bay, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran), Brooke Patterson (Sussex, Wis./Hamilton) and Steph Rouse (So.-Minnetonka, Wis./Hopkins) in the 4x400 relay. The quartet just missed out on All-American honors, placing ninth with a time of 3:52.97, just .3 seconds off of their school record time that the same four athletes set last weekend.
Schoenfelder's fifth place finish capped all of the scoring for the Blugold women, as they tied for 43rd with 4 points. UW-Oshkosh won the National Championship with 56 team points.
This historical National Meet caps the indoor season for the Blugold men and women, and both teams will take a month off before starting the outdoor season on April 5 at UW-La Crosse.