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UW-River Falls hosts Falcon Invitational cross country meet

September 18, 2014

It was a beautiful morning for a round of golf at Kilkarney Hills Golf Club on the outskirts of River Falls on Saturday, Sept. 13.

The cooler than average temperatures made for a beautiful preview of the fall to come, and the lack of wind would have made for great distance on tee shots. It wasn’t golfers getting great distance, but instead the course was taken over by throngs of spectators to watch the second annual Falcon Invitational cross country meet.

Saturday was the first event of the year for the UW-River Falls Falcons men’s and women’s cross country teams. The men finished in third place out of four teams, while the women placed fifth out of six.

Top individual finishes for the Falcons include a fifth-place finish by Daniel Borash and a 15th-place finish by Zach Ambrose for the men. Tia Harris was the top individual finisher for the women placing sixth. Before the meet, second-year co-head coach Matthew Cole had high praise for Harris.

“We return on the women side one of our top athletes, probably of all-time, Tia Harris,” said Cole. “She was an NCAA qualifier for us last year. She’s a returning captain for us. We’re expecting good things from her this year.”

Cole also commented on his expectations for both the Falcon men and women.

“I like where we are at year two; we graduated a handful of very good seniors last year,” said Cole. “I think our men’s team is better than our team last year. I think our women’s team is headed in the right direction. We’re not going to finish third in the conference meet, I don’t foresee, it would be fantastic if we did. But I think we are definitely headed in the right direction.”

New to the cross country team this year is a new co-head coach. This summer, Chris Rombough was hired as co-cross country head coach and assistant coach to the track and field teams.

Rombough is a decorated runner. He won four Wisconsin high school running championships, ran for the University of Minnesota for five years, and was a volunteer coach at Minnesota for three years after his collegiate running career. Rombough said there wasn’t a huge difference between coaching at a much larger school like Minnesota compared to UWRF.

“Coaching is coaching. It’s what you make it,” said Rombough. “It’s a bit different going from D-I to D-III. The talent level is a bit different. Coaching at Minnesota I was just working with the men, now I’m working with the men and the women. Challenges in their own way, but ones I’m ready for.” Roumbough also works at a store selling athletic shoes on the west side of the Twin Cities. Rombough said that running and coaching is a huge part of his life.

“The nice thing is it doesn’t feel like work because I enjoy it so much. Even though I’m working all the time, it’s basically a hobby I get paid for,” said Rombough.

The season, like the runners that Cole and Rombough coach, goes by fast. The Falcons only have three meets before the WIAC meet on November 1. Cole said that November is what the Falcons are working towards.

“The most important time is championship season,” said Cole. “Everything we are doing right now is putting money in the bank for those weeks in November.”