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Track and field displays success

March 9, 2012

The UW-River Falls men’s track and field team experienced a great deal of success in this year’s indoor season and hopes to maintain or exceed that success in the upcoming outdoor season.

The Falcon men placed eighth out of nine teams at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Indoor Championship in Menomonie, Wis., on Feb. 24-25. At first glance, that does not sound like a positive result. However, when you take a closer look at the team, you can see that an eighth place conference finish does not tell the whole story.

In its March 5 top 25, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association currently have UWRF at number 23. Earlier in the season, the team achieved a ranking of 22, the highest in the indoor program history. That top 25 is dominated by the WIAC with eight of the conference’s nine teams among the top 25, including five of the top eight.

Head coach Aaron Decker recognizes just how strong the conference is right now. “We have the most competitive program that River Falls has ever had, it is just that the WIAC is that tough, that competitive,” said Decker.

In addition to the overall success of the team, many individuals are doing well as evidenced by six school records being broken this indoor season.

One of those record-breakers is senior Jared Brandenburg who broke the UWRF record in the mile run in a meet held at the University of Minnesota. His time was 4 minutes, 11.48 seconds, breaking the previous school record by over three seconds according to UWRF Sports Information. Brandenburg earned the right to compete in the mile run in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships held March 9-10 at Grinnell College in Iowa. Brandenburg says it means a lot to him to make it this far.

“To me it’s kind of deserving accolade for a lot of hard work, I’ve been running for 9 years so it means a lot to get to that point,” said the Independence, Wis., native. Brandenburg has been named an Academic All-American according to head coach Aaron Decker.

Another one of those six record-breakers is freshman Michael Sandle. Sandle broke the school record in the triple jump on Feb. 10 at the Brooks Classic. His mark of 50-5 ½ is good enough for third in the nation and he will also compete in the NCAA Championships. Sandle is not satisfied with just being there though.

“It’s great to make nationals, but we want to take home the gold,” said Sandle. Decker said that even if Sandle does not win a national championship, he still had a very positive season.

“It’s extremely rare for a freshman to win a national title. He is a high-class athlete; he was someone you expected to see in Division I. He still had a great year and set a lifetime best mark,” said Decker.

The outdoor season begins for the Falcons on April 14 with the UW-River Falls Invitational. Decker expects outdoor success to be similar to the Falcons’ indoor season.

“We have set the bar high for ourselves; we have the ability to really be successful. I would like to see that we either surpass or come close to the most points our outdoor team can score. We have the group to do it. I think we’ll see a lot more school records fall,” said Decker.

Indoor and outdoor track and field events do have some differences between each other. The meets are bigger and more competitive. It makes the sport a little bit tougher but it gives the kids something to improve on. I’d like to think that every track athlete loves the challenge,” said Decker.

The WIAC Outdoor Championships begin May 4 in Whitewater, Wis.

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