By Carly Fehler, UWEC Sports Information
MENOMONIE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire track and field teams faced fierce competition this weekend at the 2017 WIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships (presented by Culver's) hosted by UW-Stout. The men finished fourth as a team with 94.5 points and the women finished sixth with 76.5 points.
On the women's side, Jessie Reineck (Sr. – Greenville, WI/Fox Valley Lutheran) led the way with a runner-up finish in the 400 meter dash, in a time of 57.08, and a third place finish in the 200 meter dash with a time of 25.50. Her 400 time puts her 9th in the national rankings. She also anchored the runner-up 4x400 meter relay team of Jess Rupnow (Sr. – Sussex, WI/Sussex-Hamilton), Ashleigh Buergi (Jr. – Green Bay, WI/Bay Port), and Sasha Riley (Fr. – Fairmont, MN) who finished with a time of 3:54.82. That time puts the quartet 8th in the country.
Samantha Slattery (Fr. – Waunakee, WI) finished third in the 5,000 meter run with a time of 17:49.57.
Lizz Ottusch (So. – Delafield/Kettle Moraine) tied for third in the high jump with a clearance of 1.56 meters.
Erica Oawster (So. Lino Lakes, MN/Centennial) threw a lifetime best of 13.61 meters in the shot put to finish third. She is currently ranked 14th in the country.
The men showed their strength is undoubtedly in the distance races, with some big finishes in those events this weekend.
Matt Cooper (Sr. – Ashwaubenon, WI) started things off hot in the mile, winning the event in a time of 4:13.21. It's a lifetime best and puts him 11th in the nation. Darin Lau (Jr. – Eau Claire, WI/Immanuel) finished third in that event well, with a time of 4:16.35.
The event of the weekend for Eau Claire was the men's 3,000 meter run. Nick Petersson (Sr. – Brookfield, WI/Brookfield Central), Lau, and John Vodacek (Sr. – New Auburn, WI/Bloomer) put on a clinic and finished 1-2-4 in the event. Their times of 8:17.42, 8:19.56, and 8:34.35 put them 3rd, 6th, and 13th in the nation. The performance was reminiscent of the indoor national meet last year, in which the trio of Josh Thorson, Petersson, and Lau had a stunning finish of 1-3-6 in the 3k. Perhaps lightning will strike twice for the Blugolds.
The aforementioned John Vodacek won the 5,000 meter run, in a time of 14:53.98.
The men's distance medley relay team of Ryan Graham (Sr. – Maple Grove, MN), Brandon Christnovich (Jr. – Holmen, WI) Kyler Lueck (Fr. – Germantown, WI/Wisconsin Lutheran), and Petersson finished 3rd overall with a time of 10:10.55.
David Kornack (Jr. – Edgar, WI) won the men's shot put with a mark of 16.07.
Finally, the men's 4x400 meter relay team of KJ Munn (Fr. – Bayport, MN/St. Croix Prep Academy), Kyle Groven (Fr. – Pine Island, MN), Hunter Henk (Fr. – Beldenville, WI/River Falls), and Christnovich finished third. Their time of 3:20.16 currently ranks them 11th in the country.
The teams will head to UW-Steven's Point next weekend for Point Final Qualifier, and perhaps a couple other last chance meets, and look to get a few more athletes qualified for nationals. The national meet, hosted by North Central College, is only two weeks away.