Men place fifth, women eighth at indoor WIAC Championships

The Pioneer men’s track team came in fifth place, and the women finished eighth in one of the last qualifying meets for the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championship on Feb. 22 and 23 at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

The men qualified an individual in all but one running event final the first day at the WIAC Indoor Track & Field Championships.  Freshman 5000-meter runner Ian LaMere took third place and qualified for the national meet.  Another national qualifier was senior Chas Spangenberg, who came in third in the pole jump with a 15-3 jump.

Nationals will take place on March 8 and 9 at North Central College in Naperville, Ill.  Spangenberg said he will compete this weekend at University of Wisconsin-Madison to get in a good practice run before competing at nationals.

The women’s team also had a successful meet.  Both sophomore Caitlin Thomson and junior Stephanie Wyss placed in the high jump and senior Deidre Dillman won the 800-meter run, qualifying for Nationals with a time of 2:14.

“She held control of that race from start to finish,” Rotzenberg said.

Freshman Kiera Depies, who ran the mile leg in the distance medley relay, ran her best mile in 5:21.  The relay team, consisting of Deipes, Dillman, freshman Teagan Seneczko and junior Lynea

Axelson, finished fourth with a time of 12:36, a performance head coach Chris Rotzenberg said he was happy with.

“[The relay] was very good for all of them,” Rotzenberg said.

“It was nice to end the season being on the podium with the medley team,” Depies said.

At this point in the season, the teams have six competitors moving on to Nationals, but that number could change with the last-chance qualifying meets this weekend at UW-Stevens Point and the UW-Madison.

Matthew Ziegler, who competes in the 4×400 relay and the 400-meter dash, said he is hoping this meet will get him to nationals.  Ziegler took seventh in the 400 meter dash preliminaries on Feb. 23 to make the finals of the WIAC Championships.

“I had to run my personal best by three tenths of a second to get to finals,” Ziegler said.  “The first day I couldn’t believe I’d done it.”

Ziegler said he hopes to carry this momentum into the last-chance meets.

Dillman is the only woman who has qualified for Nationals so far.  She is joined by male teammates LaMere, Spangenberg, senior Aaron Hrubes in the 60-meter dash, and junior T.J. Valley and senior Aaron Loferski in the 60-meter hurdles.  Rotzenberg said he has high hopes for each of his National qualifiers.

“My hopes for any competitor that qualifies for the national meet is for them to finish in the top eight and be an all-American,” Rotzenberg said.