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Women track runners have record-breaking indoor seasons

February 26, 2010

Women track runners have record-breaking indoor seasons
Spring semester has proven to be record breaking for five young women on the UW-River Falls Falcon track and field team.

Leah Korf, Alyssa Rasmussen, Kali Meurer, Sophie Lasko and Samantha Nyre have collectively broken five school records this season in the 1000m run, 55m dash, 200m run, 4x200m relay and the 4x400m relay.

Korf, a senior elementary education major, has been running track since ninth grade, when she also ran cross country at Tartan High School in Oakdale, Minn. She set a new school record in the 1,000m run Jan. 29 with a time of 3:00.45, breaking Mel King’s previous record of 3:04.26, which was set in 1995. Being in track has taught Korf a few things.

“Being involved in track helps me develop leadership skills, sportsmanship, develop friendships and helps keep me sane,” she said.

As with any sport, track has its ups and downs. Korf said her best experiences would probably include placing individually in the conference meet for indoor and outdoor in the 800m race, breaking 2:20 in the 800m in outdoor, where she ran a 2:16.11, and recently breaking the school record for the 1000m run. In Korf’s freshman year, she was also a part of the distance medley relay team that broke the school record and placed first at the conference meet.

“That was probably one of the coolest experiences to be a part of,” she said.

Korf’s worst experience, according to her, was suffering two stress fractures during her sophomore year, one that kept her from participating in outdoor track.

“It takes a lot mentally to stay focused when you can’t run,” she said.

Korf was also a part of the 4×400 meter relay with teammates Meurer, Arnold and Rasmussen that broke the school record for the event on Feb. 6. The team ran a 4:00.39. After graduation, Korf plans to teach middle school mathematics and coach high school cross country and track.

The Falcon 4x200m relay team of Lasko, Meurer, Rasmussen and Nyre broke the school record of 1:45.83 set in the 1999 season. On Feb. 6, the team set the new school record with a time of 1:45.48 at the UW-Stevens Point invitational meet.

Lasko, a freshman, began running in seventh grade. She broke the school record in the 200m dash Jan. 29, running a time of 26.27 seconds, and also holds the school record in the 55m dash, which she set Jan. 23 at UW-Stout. Lasko is a marketing communications major from Lakeville, Minn., who hopes to be a wedding planner in Saint Paul, Minn., post graduation. She said she’s had some good experiences in track, and has learned a few things.

“The best experiences in track have been going to the state meet for three years in a row and breaking three school records so far during my freshman year of track at UWRF,” she said. “Being in track has helped me become dedicated and hard working at whatever I do. It has taught me to never give up and to stay strong through the worst of times.”

Despite having set those three records in her freshman year, Lasko had a bad experience during her senior year of high school.

“I fell flat on my face about 5 feet away from the finish line while running in the 55 meter dash,” she said.

Meurer, a senior, has also been running since ninth grade, but said she’s been watching and participating in youth track events since fourth grade. Double majoring in business administration and economics, Meurer comes from Waseca, Minn., and plans to simply find a job after graduation, or attend grad school if she cannot find the right job. She said she enjoys seeing others on the track team perform well, such as qualifying for nationals or breaking a school record. Meurer said she also likes trying new events for the first time; she tried pole vaulting during her sophomore year.

“I also have a lot of fun traveling with the team, especially when we go to the conference meet and have to spend the night,” she said.

Last year, Meurer broke two bones in her foot at the outdoor conference meet in her first race.

“I could barely walk afterwards and was in a lot of pain, but it was much more painful to watch the rest of my team continue to perform and win medals,” she said. “Especially the relay teams that I was supposed to compete on.”

Meurer said that being involved in track has helped her in more ways than she can even describe. It has taught her about dedication, hard work, persistence, teamwork, leadership, following a leader and how to deal with both failure and success.

“It’s amazing how much someone can get out of being in a sport,” she said.

Rasmussen, a freshman, also started running in ninth grade in Delano, Minn. She is majoring in health and human performance, options one and three. After graduation, she hopes to be a health and physical education teacher. She was fortunate enough to compete at the state track meet her junior and senior years of high school, but had to compete with mono her junior year. She also said track has helped her become a better leader and taught her to work hard.

“I’ve learned that hard work does pay off,” Rasmussen said.

Nyre, a senior from Mondovi, Wis., said she started running in seventh grade and never stopped. After graduation, she plans to work as an agronomist for a local co-op and work on the dairy farm at her home. She said the best experience in track is the friends that she has made.

“Our team is like one big family,” she said. Nyre said some of the workouts can get a little rough, but everyone pulls each other through and they become stronger both as individuals and as a team. Being in track has taught Nyre about time management.

“I have learned how to juggle classes, practice and meets,” she said. “It has also helped my leadership skills by helping other teammates with drills and workouts.” Assistant track coach Steve Stocker said it has been very rewarding to coach these young women.

“I’ve been with the seniors three years now, so it’s satisfying to see them leave their name on the record board in the Knowles Center,” he said.

Stocker said the 4×200 relay team is a nice blend of youth and senior leadership, as it possesses two seniors (Meurer and Nyre) along with two freshman (Rasmussen and Lasko). He said the senior leadership, hard work and dedication to the program has been the key to their success. According to Stocker, the four young women on the relay team have all had to overcome injuries in the past, including back problems and foot injuries. He said their participation in athletics and overcoming challenges on the track will help them when they leave UWRF.

He added that the team has made great strides so far this year, but they feel that they can go faster as a team. Stocker said the ladies possess an excellent balance of speed, strength and great ability to run efficiently at speed.

“The 200 is a difficult event, because it’s not physiologically possible to sprint the entire distance all out,” he said. “It’s important to conserve energy so they can hold their position over the last 50 meters.”

Interim Head Coach Kevin Syverson said the relay teams have run very well this year, and the women are working very well together, feeding off each others performances. According to Severson, a team can never have too many good 200 or 400 runners, as they can be utilized in several events in a meet.

“Sophie Lasko really sets the tone in the 4×200 as the leadoff leg and Alyssa runs a very strong leg as well,” Severson said. “Sammi and Kali finish it off and as seniors, provide the leadership and experience to the team.”

All five of the young women have enjoyed setting new school records. Korf said breaking the school record helped her accomplish one of her season goals.

“I’m not going to lie, it was awesome,” she said. Rasmussen said she is really glad to be a part of that team. “It feels cool.”

According to Meurer, breaking the records has given her a stronger sense of accomplishment and that is all that she could ask for.

“I think it will feel even better when I can look up on the board at the track and actually see my name.”

Lasko said the girls on the team are awesome, and that she’s proud of all of them.

“I am so glad to have run it with them.”

Nyre said the feeling is amazing.

“It was the first time the four of us had run together, and I am really excited to see what else we can do.”