By Alyson Kehn
The University of Wisconsin–Stout Blue Devils men and women’s track teams traveled to the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse April 17 and 18 for the Phil Esten Challenge. The men’s team placed third overall with the women’s placing eighth in the meet. There were also multiple athletes who placed high individually.
Meagan Ward, a junior from Eau Claire, Wis., and Jessika Smith, a senior from Onalaska, Wis., took the heptathlon by storm with a first-place finish from Ward with 4922 points and a second place finish by Smith with 4877 points. Both Blue Devil women broke the school record in the event.
Senior Zach Anderson of Frederic, Wis. led the team by winning the decathlon with a score of 6828, setting a new school record in the process. Logan Loeffler, a freshman from Hortonville, Wis., finished fourth; Kevin Salveson, a sophomore from Maple Lake, Minn., was fifth; and Ethen Schoen, a freshman from Fall Creek, came in ninth for the Blue Devils in the event.
Paul VanGrinsven, a junior from Little Chute, Minn., also secured a first place win with his 9:15.64 time in the 3000-meter steeplechase.
The Blue Devils had several second place finishes as well, including Peyton Shedd, a sophomore from Sheldon, Wis., in pole vault; freshman Ross Thompson of Mauston, Wis. in the 400-meter dash; and junior Laurisa Titterud from Lino Lakes, Minn. in the 400-meter dash.
Another standout event was the 5000-meter run, where four out of five UW–Stout men who ran placed. The men included freshman Gus Metzdorff from Minneapolis, Minn. in third place, freshman Zach Wichham from Hortonville, Wis. in fourth place, sophomore Connor Ahrens from Tomahawk, Wis. in fifth place and freshman David Rosenlund of Oconto Falls, Wis. in seventh. UW–Stout’s fifth place runner, Zach Zimmerman, a freshman from Rosendale, Wis., just missed the podium, finishing ninth.
Congratulations to the track and field Blue Devils for a great performance! The next meet is the St. Mary’s Open on Saturday, April 26 in Winona, Minn. While most of the team will be in Winona, the Blue Devils will also be sending athletes to the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa from April 24 to 26 and the Gina Relays in Hillsdale, Mich. from April 25 to 26.