Augustana Invite to give Warhawks tremendous test

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The outdoor season is heating up for the men’s and women’s track and field teams, as they both will travel to meet stellar competition at the Meet of Champions this weekend in Augustana, Ill.

The teams will see most of their opponents from the WIAC along with some top-notch teams from Illinois.

Sophomore Beau Hering clears the high jump last Friday at the Rex Foster Open. Hering and the Warhawks travel to the Augustana Invite this weekend. Photo by Andrew Smith

Both coaches will have as many athletes as possible perform in an attempt to get a multitude of national qualifiers.

“We’re going to be putting a lot of people in their premier events this weekend,” men’s head coach Mike Johnson said. “With the competition there and hopefully some good weather, the plan is to continue to PR continuously and see if we can get some more qualifiers.”

Women’s head coach Josh Ireland echoed Johnson as he said some of his athletes will now perform in their better events which weren’t run during the spring.

“Madeline Roznos will hopefully do the steeplechase, which is her best event,” Ireland said. “Overall, we just hope we can get a lot of girls to improve on times for nationals and for the conference meet.”

The women have already had four athletes provisionally qualify for the national meet: Sophomore Shelby Demos in the high jump, senior Sara Poppe in the triple jump, and seniors Jessa Leubke and Megan Blake in the weight throw.

Ireland said Luebke’s development into a high-level thrower has been fun to watch, as she surpassed her former PR by nearly seven feet at the Rex Foster Invite in Whitewater last Friday. Luebke recorded a throw 168-0.5 at the meet.

“She knows she can do things like that and so do I,” Ireland said. “Her approach to the sport is awesome … she’s committed to doing bigger and better things in all her throwing events.”

Meanwhile, the men have already qualified five different athletes and the 4 x 100 meter relay team. Freshmen Nick Miller and Nick Bee in the 100-meter dash, senior Brian Butzler in the 5,000 meter run, sophomore Marcus Smith in the triple jump and senior Ben Stringer in the discus.

The 4 x 100 team consisting of Bee, Miller, freshman Moriarty Brown-Griffin and sophomore Dave Kuczynski have given the team a strength in an event that in years past was a weakness.

“We have some big goals for that relay,” Johnson said. “As long as things pan out the way they should they should do pretty well.”

In automatically qualifying for nationals with a time of 14:23.77 in the 5,000-meter run, Butzler set a new school record.

Butzler will run his first-ever 10,000-meter run this Saturday, and he said he’s excited for the possibility of qualifying for nationals in two events.

“I’m looking forward to running with teammates,” Butzler said. “The only thing I’m not excited about is running all of those laps around the track.”