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Track team looks ahead to upcoming season

February 11, 2010

The UW-River Falls’ men and women’s track and field teams opened the 2010 season on Jan. 23 at the UW-Stout Open.

After being crowned NCAA National Champions in 2008, the women’s team was looking for a strong start.

Leading the women’s team in the first meet with a first place finish in the 400 meters, was Natasha Arnold. Arnold finished in 59.99. Other top performers included Sophie Lasko, who placed second in the 200 meters; Jennifer Aronson, who placed second in the long jump; and Carlin Bunting, who placed second in the triple jump.

Mid-distance senior runner Leah Korf holds the UWRF women’s 1000 meter record by five seconds. She believes the team has been setting a lot of personal records so far this year and expects the team will continue to improve.

“I expect our team to do very well and to see continual improvement on both the women’s and men’s teams,” Korf said.

The leaders of the men’s team included Chad Ernst and Clai Catto, who each had first place finishes. According to UWRF Sports Information, Ernst won the 5,000 in 15:19.46 and Catto won the high jump with a leap of 6-5 1/2.

Other top performers included Nick Zein, who placed second in the 800, and Jared Brandenburg, who placed second in the mile.

Sophomore distance runner Scott Bowman also believes the teams will continue to get better as the season goes on and that this years men’s team is one of the best of all time.

“Compared to only a couple years ago, the depth of the team has improved. Both teams have worked really hard to get where we are… from early morning lifting to grueling workouts. I foresee major results at the end of the season,” Bowman said.

The Falcon’s second invitational was held Jan. 29 at St. Olaf. Top performers for the men’s team included Kyle Staff, who placed third in the 55 meter hurdles with a time of 8.37 seconds. Greg Klingelhutz and Wade Schlicting finished second and third in the 55 meter dash.

Leading the women’s team was Lasko, who finished second in the 55 meter dash and second in the 200 meters. Other top performers included Arnold, who finished first in the 400 meters, and Carly Eggert, who finished third in the mile.

Arnold sees this year’s team really coming together. “The biggest difference, aside from performances, this year that I personally see within the team is team effort when it comes to cheering each athlete on while they compete in their individual events,” Arnold said.

It’s the coaches, Arnold says, that brings the most out of the teams. “The coaches have also been very optimistic for this year and the extra push is leading to some really outstanding performances on the track, which I think will take both teams extremely far in both the indoor and outdoor competitive seasons.”

At the UW-Stevens Point meet on Feb. 4, two school records were set by the women’s relay teams. According to UWRF Sports Information, the 4×200 meters team of Lasko, Kali Meurer, Alyssa Rasmussen and Samantha Nyre ran 1:45.48 to place first. They broke the previous record of 1:45.83 set in the 1999 season.

The other record was broken by the 4×400 meters team of Meurer, Arnold, Leah Korf and Rasmussen, with a time of 4:00:39. This broke the 2007 record of 4:00.5.

The men’s and women’s teams’ continue their season on Feb. 12 at the UWRF Brooks Classic. The outdoor season begins April 6 with the Falcon Invitational.