GRINNELL, Iowa (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire men's indoor track & field team captured its best finish at nationals in program history as it took second place at the 2012 NCAA Division III Championship today.
The Blugolds finished the two-day competition with 37 points while North Central College (Ill.) won its third straight national title with 48 points. UW-Oshkosh finished third with 32 while UW-Stout was fourth with 28. A total of seven WIAC schools finished 12 or better while eight came in the top 16. The Blugolds' previous best finish came in 1990 when they tied for fourth place.
Following a national title by Tyler Genovese (Sr.-Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) and a fourth place finish by Tony Sigrist (Sr.-Byron, Minn.) in the weight throw on Friday, the Blugolds came away with two national runner-up finishes and a total of five All-American performances Saturday.
Thomas Breitbach (Sr.-Muskego, Wis.) took second in the 5,000-meter run with a school-record time of 14:17.63 but it was UW-Stout's Tim Nelson that came away with the national title with a time of 14:11.80. The previous UW-Eau Claire school record was 14:27.21, set by Dan Held on March 12, 1988.
The Blugolds' 4x400-meter relay team of Marty Richardson (Sr.-Appleton, Wis./Kimberly), Thurgood Dennis (Fr.-Allouez, Wis./Green Bay Notre Dame), Jacob Dennis-Oehling (So.-Whitewater, Wis.) and Cody Prince (Fr.-Appleton, Wis./North) came in second place behind North Central with a school-record time of 3:16.35. The same group of runners set the school record just one week ago in Stevens Point with a time of 3:16.76. North Central won the title with a time of 3:16.11.
Also contributing points to the team's total were Dennis and Prince as they competed in the 400-meter dash. Both earned All-American status as Dennis came in seventh with a time of 49.33 seconds while Prince was eighth with a time of 49.57 seconds.
In the shot put, Joe Lilek (Sr.-Tomahawk, Wis.) gave the Blugolds three points with an All-American toss of 16.69 meters (54-9.25) as he came in sixth place.
Also competing over the last two days was Bart Mestelle (Sr.-Sun Prairie, Wis.) in the heptathlon. He finished in 10th place with 4,722 points.
The Blugolds will now turn their attention to the outdoor season, which gets underway on March 24.