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Falcons finish strong at Griak

October 2, 2008

Junior cross country runner Becca Jordahl broke her previous record at the Griak Invitational en route to defending her title while the men’s team placed two runners in the top 15 Sept. 27.

“Based from last year we had a huge improvement in time from everybody,” co-Women’s Coach Scott Sekelsky said. “Overall I’m really happy and, of course, with Becca winning for the second year in a row, it was nice to see she could hang with and outkick a national champ in the one mile.”

Jordahl finished with a time of 21:59.9, beating Marie Borner from Bethel University by less than two seconds in the 6,000-meter race. The women’s team, however, was unable to place another runner in the top 80 and finished 19 out of 36 teams and fifth out of the seven WIAC teams that ran.

“I thought we did really well; we had four runners packed together well and our fifth, sixth and seventh runners all moved up a lot today,” captain Leah Korf said. “The WIAC is a tough conference, but I think we’ve got a shot to be a competitor.”

The men’s team, ranked ninth in the Div. III Midwest region, finished seventh out of 31 teams with all five scoring runners placing in the top 81. Junior Chad Ernst led UW-River Falls finishing 11th overall, running the 8,000 meter course in 26:08. Senior Jason Phillippi finished just one second slower, placing 14th.

“I feel pretty pleased that we did this well,” Ernst said. “Overall, it’s nice to get up there and have a teammate, Jason Phillippi, right behind me too, so that’s nice to see.”

The men’s team finished fourth among WIAC teams at the meet with 221 points. UW-La Crosse won the meet with 52 points and is ranked first in the Midwest region and third in the national poll. UWRF received two votes in the national poll, the first time in the program’s history that it has received votes.

“It’s a great meet for the men to see where we’re at against the ranked teams in the nation,” Head Coach Keven Syverson said. “I think overall the team responded well; we’ve never run particularly well here. It’s the first time we’ve had award winners here [for the men] in…well I don’t know if we’ve ever had award winners here.”

The seventh place finish for the men is 11 places better than the 18th place in 2007 at the Griak. Prior to the race, Syverson said that the men’s team was really looking to finish in the top ten and if they ran really well they could get in the top seven. Syverson attributes that finish to a pair of strong runners up front.

“You need a front runner,” Syverson said. “That’s what the men have been lacking: a nice one-two punch.”

Syverson assessed the WIAC with realistic expectations, noting that La Crosse, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Oshkosh were the top three teams, but also saying that it is wide open after that.

“We want to see where we fit into that mix. It’s going to be real tight in there,” Syverson said. “We’re closer than we’ve been in a while. To be in that mix is a real positive step for our program.”