LA CROSSE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - First place finishes by a pair of All-Americans led the UW-Eau Claire men's track and field team to a third place finish at the Phil Esten Challenge on Sunday, hosted by UW-La Crosse.
Already having the meet pushed back from Friday to Sunday because of poor weather conditions, the Blugolds competed in rain all day, but that didn't stop them from performing.
Thurgood Dennis (So.-Allouez, Wis./Green Bay Notre Dame), the indoor national champion in the 60-meter dash as well as the 4x400 meter relay, took down 400-meter indoor national champion Aric Hoeschen of UW-La Crosse in Hoeschen's own event, the 400-meter dash. Dennis beat the conditions and rose to the occasion, winning with a time of 48.10 seconds. Hoeschen came in second with a time of 48.92 seconds.
Brandon Zarnoth (So.-Appleton, Wis./North), who finished eighth in the heptathlon at Indoor Nationals, appeared to have punched his ticket to Outdoor Nationals by finishing first in the decathlon with a total of 6,398 points. That now puts him atop of the rankings in the NCAA Division III.
Zarnoth's decathlon teammate Patrick Swanson (Sr.-Hastings, Minn.) finished second behind Zarnoth with a point total of 6,014.
Two Blugold freshmen grabbed a pair of second places on the day to help pace the team.
Nic Veras (Fr.-West De Pere, Wis.) finished second in the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 14.92, and Joe Meister (Fr.-Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata) finished second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:47.14.
The Blugolds finished with 113 team points. UW-La Crosse won the meet with 255 points.
The Blugolds will be represented in a slew of meets next weekend, as some will compete at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, starting Friday, while a slew of distance runners will travel to Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich., to compete at the Gina Relays, also starting Friday. The majority of the team will be traveling to St. Mary's University in Winona, Minn., to compete at the St. Mary's Invite on Saturday. All three meets will wrap on Saturday night.