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UWRF men’s track takes first place at home meet

April 18, 2014

Freshman, Michael Liddell, finishes up his event at the Falcon Invitational that was held on Saturday, April 12, at Ramer Field.
Freshman, Michael Liddell, finishes up his event at the Falcon Invitational that was held on Saturday, April 12, at Ramer Field. The men’s team finished first out of the six track teams that participated in the invitational. (Kathy M. Helgeson/University Communications)

The UW-River Falls men’s and women’s track and field team hosted its only outdoor meet of the 2014 season, and the men took first place by outrunning, out-throwing and outjumping the other five teams in the competition.

The men routed second-place UW-Stout by 39 points, while the women’s team finished fifth, 53 points behind first place UW-Stout. The home meet took place at Ramer Field on Saturday, April 12. Despite early-morning rain showers, wind gusts around 20 mph and temperatures in the 40s, the meet was quite a success.

“We did compete well and I saw a lot of good things from our distance runners,” Head Coach Matthew Cole said. “We were excited about competing at home.”

David Paynotta, a sophomore sprinter, placed first in the men’s 100- and 200-meter dashes. His 100- and 200-meter dash times are both currently placed in the top 12 in the WIAC. Paynotta and teammates Tucker Malecha, John Maillette and Daniel Raiter, also placed second in the men’s 4×100 relay.

“It was great to finally get outside and compete on our home track,” Paynotta said. “That was the first home meet in two years.”

Arranging a college-level track and field meet is no small task. A lot of planning and volunteer work goes into such an event. A number of UWRF football players were spotted lending a helping hand on Saturday by volunteering to measure jumps and rank sand on the long jumps.

“We wouldn’t be able to do it without Coach Walker and the football team,” Matthew Cole said. “It takes a lot of work to set up an outdoor meet. The biggest issue is setting up the facility—it takes a lot of people.”

Windsor Molnar, a sophomore jumper, had a historic day as he set a new school record in the men’s pole vault with a jump of 14-10 1/4, narrowly breaking the previous record of 14-10 set by Mycola Kamper in 2006 and Carl Calabrese in 2011. Molnar placed second in the event.

“I didn’t get to see the jump, but I was told Windsor did a great job,” Cole said. “I’m very happy for him to now hold the school record. Carl (Calabrese) was there to see it, and he also was happy for him.”

Another highlight of the afternoon was senior thrower Ben Tykwinski’s first-place finish in the men’s hammer throw, who won with a distance of 182-10. The throw was good enough to land Tykwinski in fourth place in the WIAC. Tykwinski also placed fourth in the discus throw with a distance of 139-08.

Senior thrower and jumper Stephanie Walek placed first in the women’s javelin throw with a distance of 125-3, which was good for second place in the WIAC. Walek also placed third in the pole vault with a jump of 10-6.

The typically cold western Wisconsin weather has not been friendly to the track and field team, who practiced outside for the first time this season on Monday. Ramer Field was covered in snow a week prior to the track meet. Friday’s meet in La Crosse, Wis., will go on as scheduled, regardless of low temperatures or chances of precipitation.

“We can’t afford to take a week off because the conference meet is around the corner,” Cole said. “The outdoor season is very short.”

Hosting a track meet can be very beneficial on and off the field for all student-athletes. Student-athletes are accustom to traveling across state lines, but it can become quite demanding because of educational expectations. For others, hosting a track meet is a great chance to compete in front of friends and family.

“It was great to finally have friendly faces in the crowd,” Paynotta said. “Our team had a great start to the season, and having opportunities like this could not only help build our team but our university as well.”