WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Blugolds.com) – For the first time in school history, the UW-Eau Claire men's track and field team earned its first NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Team National Championship scoring 62 points here today on the final day of the 2015 NCAA Division Indoor Track and Field National Championships hosted by Roanoke College at JDL Fast Track.
The Blugolds held a seven-point advantage over defending national champion UW-La Crosse going into the final event, the 4 x 400-meter relay. La Crosse finished fifth scoring five points but it was not enough to prevent the Blugolds from winning its first team track and field championship in school history.
Eau Claire entered the final day of competition tied for fourth place with 10 points but scored 52 points, more than any other team besides La Crosse, to earn the national championship. La Crosse was the leader at the beginning of the day with a first-day score of 31 points.
Roger Steen (Sr.-Luck, WI) won his first indoor national championship in the shot put when he set a school and meet record of 61-8.5 (18.81 meters). The previous meet record of 60-6.25 (18.45 meters) was set by David Bless of Bates on March 10, 2012. Steen broke the school record for the fourth time this season and became the third Blugold indoor shot put national champion in school history, joining John Schuna in 2002 and John Mago who won the NAIA national title in 1986.
Joining Steen on the podium was teammate Alex Mess (Jr.-De Pere, WI/Green Bay Notre Dame) who finished third in the shot put with a personal-best throw of 59-10.25 (18.24 meters). The throw by Mess was more than three feet farther than his previous best toss of the year.
Brandon Zarnoth (Sr.-Appleton, WI/North) earned his first heptathlon national title scoring 5,425 points. Zarnoth is the first Blugold to ever win the heptathlon national title. His seven-event total set a new school record which he previously set of 5,385 points on March 1, 2014. Zarnoth won the pole vault clearing 14-11 (4.55 meters), placed second in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.20 seconds falling short of taking first place by five one-thousandths of a second, and finishing eighth in the 1,000-meter run with a time of 2:54.70. It is the third time Zarnoth has earned All-America honors in the heptathlon finishing second in 2014 and eighth in 2013.
Teammate Greg Peterson (Sr.-Hartland, WI/Arrowhead) gave the Blugolds a 1-2 finish in the heptathlon. Peterson entered the day in sixth place and jumped all the way to second place scoring 5,206 points to join Zarnoth on the medal stand. Peterson scored 2,455 points over the final three events to finish in second place lead by winning the 1,000-meter run with a time of 2:40.68. Peterson also finished fifth in the pole vault clearing 14-7.25 (4.45 meters) and ninth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.57 seconds. The two-day point total was a personal best for Peterson, who totaled 5,093 points February 27-28 at the WIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships at UW-Platteville.
Thurgood Dennis (Sr.-Allouez, WI/Green Bay Notre Dame) fell two-hundredths of a second short of winning his third 60-meter dash national championship. Dennis finished second posting a time of 6.75 seconds, his fastest time of the season. Winston Lee of Cobleskill (NY) won the event with a time of 6.73 seconds.
Josh Thorson (So.-Plymouth, MN/Wayzata) placed third in the 3,000-meter run with a school record time of 8:11.80. Thorson broke his previous school record of 8:17.90 set on February 13, 2015 at the St. Thomas Invitational.
Cody Prince (Sr.-Appleton, WI/North) finished sixth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.19 seconds. Prince also finished eighth in the triple jump covering 46-9 (14.25 meters). Both finishes will earn Prince All-America status.
It was a record-breaking season the the Blugold men's track and field team. Not only did the team earn its first-ever national championship but seven school records were broken including four this past weekend.