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Falcons gear up for promising fall season

September 17, 2009

Fall sports are underway at UW-River Falls with many teams looking ahead to the season, hoping to improve upon last season’s results.

Men’s Cross Country

Keven Syverson is the men and women’s cross country coach, and he said both teams are looking forward to a good season.

“Both teams have set some high goals for the season,” the third-year coach said. “We’ve never had a team go to the NCAA DIII Nationals for cross country, and this is something we are striving for in the near future.”

The men’s cross country team finished ninth in the WIAC last season, and they’re returning five of their top seven runners from last year. Second team all-conference runner Jason Phillippi, also a track and field all-American, graduated and will be the team’s biggest loss.

All-time fastest 8k runner in Falcon history, Chad Ernst, will return for his senior season along with J.D. Rojas, who is the seventh fastest 8k runner in University history. Last year’s number four runner, Scott Degner, also returns for his senior season.

Scott Bowman returns as well as Richie Mark, who did not compete last season. Jared Brandenburg is a transfer from St. Mary’s and will be joining the team for their 2009 season.

“He has been looking very good,” Syverson said, “along with Abdi Hassan from Burnsville High School.”

Women’s Cross Country

The women’s cross country team finished sixth in WIAC competition in 2008. They return only two of their top seven runners from last season. The team’s biggest blow comes from losing three-time cross country all-American Becca Jordahl. Jordahl will be back for her final track and field season this year, however.

The team must also look to replace Christine Peters, Tiffany Gardner and Amy Follmann, who all graduated. Carly Eggert and Leah Korf will be the team’s returning senior captains, and Syverson said both girls are looking very strong in practice and had very good track and field seasons last year.

Brianna Waldvogel returns, much improved from her freshman year, and Ashley Graef, a senior, has also been looking strong, Syverson added.

The team also adds 11 freshmen to their roster, and Syverson said he feels very strong about this class for the future.”

Jenna Dean from Brainerd and Brittany Nordland from Pine Island are the leaders of this group so far,” Syverson said, “along with Tanya Thompson from Denmark, Wis.”

The cross country teams worked excruciatingly hard on summer mileage during the summer. Syverson said the squads have been working on this since track and field finished in June.

“Summer mileage is crucial for establishing a base that will allow your body to handle the day-after-day workouts and the running your body must do during the season,” Syverson said.

The team’s next meet is Sept. 26 at the Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota. Running will begin at 9 a.m.

Football

The football team finished in a tie for seventh in the WIAC, finishing 2-5 (3-7 overall) in 2008. Having lost 61 letterwinners, the Falcons will have some big shoes to fill.

Wide receiver Michael Zweifel made the all-conference first offensive team, as did center Scott Witte. Both players are not returning for the 2009 season. Quarterback Storm Harmon made honorable mention and will be missed from the squad this year, as well. Defensively, honorable mention Brad Novacheck (defensive lineman) and all-sportsmanship team member Jamie Bisch (defensive back) will not be returning either.

Running back Matt Pollock led the team in rushing, averaging 61.5 yards per game, in 2008. Pollock will be returning for the 2009 season. Second-leading rusher, Greg Klingelhutz is also returning. Klingelhutz averaged 43.9 yards per game. Full back Joel Yogerst led the team in points last season with 66 total points, and he will be returning.

Zweifel led the team in receiving yards, averaging 108.2 yards a game. Through the loss of Zweifel, receivers John Bratcher and Michael Woodward will be the team’s leading receiving returners. Bratcher averaged 22.1 yards per game, and Woodward averaged 27.4 yards per game.

Defensive back Ben Arata returns to the team as a senior. Arata led the team in interceptions with four on the season and made the all-WIAC second defensive team.

The Falcons next football game is Sept.19 at Northwestern. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Soccer

The Falcons women soccer team went 3-5 in conference play at the conclusion of the 2008 season. With sixteen letterwinners returning, the team has a strong foundation to begin their 2009 season with.

The team’s leading scorers, juniors Eryn Lansverk and Megan Church are both returning. Lansverk led the team with 17 points on the season, and Church finished with 13. Church also scored the most gamewinning goals, two, and Lansverk led the team in assists with three. Senior Kayla Scott also finished the season with three assists. Lansverk and Church also led the team in shots taken on the season. Lansverk finished with 54 shots with a 0.130 shot percentage. Twenty-six of those shots were on goal. Church had 27 shots with a 0.222 shot percentage. Eighteen of her total shots were taken on goal. Church made first team all-conference as a midfielder.

The soccer team’s next game is Sept. 19 at Eau Claire. The match will begin at noon.

Volleyball

The Falcon volleyball team finished 15-22 in overall play and 2-6 in WIAC play. They finished tied for sixth in the conference.

Outside hitter Kelsey Scheele, rightside hitter Andria Vetsch and middle hitter Gina DeRosa are the team’s three seniors. In addition, Head Coach Patti Ford said she expects to see great things amongst the seniors and other returners.

“We have a great blend of returners in Scheele, DeRosa, Vetsch and libero Mandy McKenzie,” she said. “We’ve also got great freshmen in Minnesota All-State players Danielle Gibbemeyer (outside hitter) and Kaitlin Speedling (outside hitter).”

Ford said the team is also excited about their two extremely talented freshman setters, Mackenzie Suda and Hayley Buchanan.

Last season, Scheele led the team in several categories. She finished with 456 kills (3.19 per game), 44 aces, 1,311 attacks and 528 digs. DeRosa adds a huge front to the Falcon defense. She finished last season with 135 total blocks (31 solo, 104 assisted). Both Scheele and DeRosa are three-year starters.

Scheele earned honorable mention to the 2008 AVCA All- American team. She was also named to the first All-WIAC team in 2008. DeRosa earned honorable mention to the All- WIAC team last season, as well.

“We’ve got good defense, high volleyball IQ, and we’re impressively athletic,” Ford said. “Falcon volleyball is going to be exciting this year.”

The volleyball team plays host to the Titans of Oshkosh in their first conference match. Play will begin at 7 p.m.

Tennis

The Falcon tennis team finished seventh in the WIAC with a 1-5 conference record. The team is returning five letterwinners after losing four.

Head Coach Lee Lueck said the team’s coaching staff had a banner year of recruiting.

“We have five veterans back, a first-year sophomore and six new freshmen recruits,” Lueck said. “I think we’re much stronger this year.”

Last season, Mindy Rudiger made the All- WIAC second singles team. Rudiger, as a senior, won’t be returning for the 2009 season. As a junior, Kathryne Ostrowski made the all-sportsmanship team.

Thenext Falcon tennis match is Sept. 19 at Whitewater at 9 a.m. Also on the 19th, the team will face Concordia while still at Whitewater. That match is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

Golf

The UWRF women’s golf team looks to make an impact in the WIAC in 2009. Last season, the team finished seventh in the conference.

The team returns seven letterwinners and loses only one in Katie Kantrud. One freshman joins the roster.

The team’s best finish was eighth at the Platteville Invitational last season. Mackenzie Casey averaged 94.6 throughout the season in five tours, leading the team. Kelly Gordh averaged 93.5 in four tours.

The team’s next tournament is Sept. 19-20 at the Division III Midwest Classic at Jewel Golf Club in Lake City, Minn. The time of the event has yet to be determined.