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Senior captain leads team through last cross country season

October 23, 2009

The UW-River Falls cross country team is led this season by a senior captain who has been teaching runners how to lead on and off the field.

Senior runner Chad Ernst is preparing to become a marine, and also is leading the Falcons cross country runners through his last season.

Last summer, Ernst went through training to become a lieutenant in the Marines.

“I am commissioning to become a second lieutenant in May,” he said.

Commissioning to become a lieutenant is basically training to be in the position. Ernst attributes some of his abilities to lead a young team to the training he was given to become a Marine.

“It helped me be more of a leader, and to help communicate expectations to the team,” Ernst said. “I’m glad to be in the Marine Corps.”

Cross country coach Keven Syverson, in his third year with the team, also recognizes Ernst’s ability to lead.

“[Chad] does a good job helping students understand,” Syverson said. “Freshmen and sophomores need to learn consistency.”

Syverson said that a tough part of collegiate running is learning how to balance running and academics, a balance that that all college athletes have to learn to be successful both on and off the field.

Ernst said he has found a good balance of this; he has made the Dean’s List in every semester he has attended UWRF. He is also a tutor at the Academic Success Center.

“He has been a US Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association Academic All- American the past two years, and made the WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll in cross country, and both indoor and outdoor track,” Syverson said. “He is a very good student.”

Ernst has also experienced success in cross country running as well. According to the team’s web site, Ernst has the top all-time 8K running record, with a time of 24 minutes and 56 seconds. The time was recorded at the Oshkosh Brooks Invitational last October.

In the same season, the second highest 8K time was recorded by another runner, then-senior Jason Phillippi. Ernst said that having another runner to push him through workouts really helped him blossom in the season.

“It is nice to have a teammate who can run with me and push me through workouts,” he said.

Syverson said that having two very quick runners “really helped” last season, though the team lacked depth in the other running slots. The current team, however, has the depth that the other team lacked, according to Syverson.

“Our three through six runners are closer together than last year,” he said. “We need consistency.” With this in mind, the cross country men and women are gearing up for the upcoming WIAC meet on Oct. 31 at UW-Whitewater.

“We would like to be in fifth [place] or better,” Syverson said. “The top seven teams in the conference are very good.”

“The conference is tough, historically,” Ernst said. “Some of our runners are not yet running to their ability.”

The runners hope that by Halloween, they will be.