Unlike the weather outside, both the men’s and women’s track and field team has made the transition from its winter season to the spring season.
The teams have begun training for the outdoor track season, as they leave a successful indoor season behind them.
“This was an exciting indoor season, and very exciting for me, with it being my first season here at River Falls,” said Head Coach Matthew Cole. “I was happy to see our girls qualify and compete well at the national level.”
Seniors Kimberly Lueck, in the 60m hurdles, and Amanda Rothbauer, in the 800m run, both qualified for the indoor national meet, which was held on March 14. It was the first trip to the national meet for both Lueck and Rothbauer, and it was the second straight season in which UW-River Falls had two runners qualify.
“I have had the goal of making it to Nationals in a relay since my freshman year, so I was very excited to qualify in the open 800,” Rothbauer said. “It was awesome that Kim Lueck also qualified in the 60 hurdles so we got to travel together.”
While neither runner qualified for finals in their respective events, both runners broke both their personal records, as well as both of the school records at nationals.
“They both had a very good meet, and it was both Kim and Amanda’s first national meet,” Cole said. “They worked hard this indoor season and worked harder to make it to the national meet.”
With the indoor season in the books, both teams will now turn their attention toward the outdoor track season. Senior Scott Jensen said that the team is looking forward to the outdoor season at this time of the year.
“I think what most people on the track team are looking forward to outdoor is just being outside. It is always nice to be able to practice outside where you have more room and fresh air,” Jensen said.
Both Cole and Jensen said that times should continue to drop for the runners on the team.
“Also we are now four months into our training so we hope to see times drop and be able to have more people qualify for the conference and national meets,” Jensen said.
“As long as we keep working hard, and follow our process, it’ll all pay off in the end and we’ll be running, throwing, and jumping our best when it counts the most,” Cole said.
The men’s team finished eighth in the WIAC in the indoor season, and is looking to improve on that placement in the outdoor season. This effort will be bolstered by some runners and throwers Cole said could break out as national contenders.
“We have some good young sprinters that I’m really excited about, and I think we could put together a really good team outdoors,” Cole said. “David [Paynotta] and Ben [Tykwinski] really had the best shots at going [to nationals], and proved that they are national caliber kids.”
The women’s team, much like the men’s team, will aim to improve its WIAC placing in the outdoor season after also finishing eighth during the indoor season.
“Conference is a big goal for us all, and I hope to see as many people qualify for that meet as we can – hopefully more than we brought to indoor,” Rothbauer said. “It’s nice to have a representation there, to compete and make our mark on the conference stage.”
However, a lot of the potential success of the outdoor season hinges on whether or not the team can run at its meets.
“Outdoor season is short. If we miss a meet then we’re really hurting. But we do have a good place to practice and work out, so we’re good in that regard,” Cole said. Jensen said that those circumstances are not lost on the members of the team.
“Outdoor is a short and unpredictable season, so people know they need to be ready to perform at every meet because the weather may only give us one nice day,” Jensen said.
Rothbauer added to what Jensen said by agreeing that the outdoor season is very short. The team only has four meets before the WIAC meet.
“Outdoor isn’t very long and there isn’t a lot of meets, but the ones we do run at will give us chances to see good competition and get quality marks,” Rothbauer said.
Both teams will run their first outdoor meet on Saturday, April 5, at Carleton College, and will then return home for the Falcon Invitational on April 12.