Milwaukee Looking To Return To Championship Form
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's track and field team kicks off its 2009 indoor season this weekend, traveling to Madison, Wis., for the Badger Track Classic on Saturday.
Each of the Panthers' first two meets this season will take place in Madison, as they return to the state capital Jan. 30-31 for the Wisconsin Elite Invitational.
2009 Season Preview
The Milwaukee women's track and field team has been a model of consistency over the last decade-plus, finishing among the top two in the league an unprecedented 21 times.
In fact, the Panthers have won a league-record five titles indoors, a league-record five crowns outdoors, with 11 runner-up finishes at the remaining 13 league meets since 1997.
One year removed from indoor and outdoor Horizon League championships, Milwaukee is not settling for runner-up. And, this year seems just as good as any for UWM to add to their trophy case.
The Panthers return all seven individual league champions, which accounted for 12 league crowns in 2008.
Conrad has claimed all-league honors in the 400m, both indoors and outdoors, in each of her first two seasons. Included in that total is a pair of league titles and two more runner-up finishes. She is also among the top five in five sprint events, including the indoor 200m (third) and 400m (second) and the outdoor 100m, 200m, and 400m (all fourth).
Ross has run sparingly for Milwaukee, but has shown what she can do with what was the ninth-best time in school history in the 60m as a freshman.
Kaufmann emerged as a strong competitor in the 400m for UWM last season, anchoring the Panthers' league-champion 4x400m relay. During the indoor season, she ran the fourth-best 400m time in school history and finished third in the event at the league meet. Outdoors, in addition to runner-up showings with the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, she took fifth in the 400m.
Freshman Katie Duchow joins the sprinters this season after a prep career that included a state relay title her junior year. She qualified for state all three years, competing in the 100m and adding another runner-up relay finish. Middle Distance Junior Laura Ring is the lone returner in the middle distance group that will feature three freshmen. Ring won both the indoor and outdoor 800m league championships last season after runner-up finishes in both her freshman year. She ran the third-best times in school history indoors and outdoors and also competed at the NCAA Mideast Regional.
Freshmen Shannon Brown, Beonca Mitchell and Erika Hanson will round out the group. Brown is the younger sister of Ring and was a two-time state qualifier in high school. Mitchell is a native of Milwaukee and won a state title in the 4x400m relay as a senior, while also qualifying for the state meet with the 4x800m relay twice. Hanson was a state competitor in the 400m and posted a sixth-place finish at the Illinois state meet as a junior.
Undoubtedly though, senior Holly Nearman leads the group after a junior season in which she was named the Horizon League Outdoor Athlete of the Year. A redshirt senior in track, she broke the school record in the outdoor 5000m twice and went on to take eighth at the NCAA Mideast Regional. Her regional finish was the highest by any league athlete last season and put her within one place of a bid to the NCAA Championships. In the league, she won the indoor 5000m and was runner-up in the 3000, while adding a runner-up 5000m showing outdoors.
Zaspel was the team's top runner at nearly every meet in the fall and was an all-conference runner for the second-straight season with her fifth-place finish. She continued to improve throughout her sophomore season, her first in Milwaukee after transferring from Florida Gulf Coast. Zaspel will look to build on her strong fall and look to compete near the top of the league.
If Magargee's senior track season goes anything like her cross country season, the league better watch out. Magargee had a breakout fall, becoming a consistent scorer as the team's third runner, culminating with a seventh-place finish at the league meet. Fisher is another runner poised for a breakout season after taking ninth at the league cross country meet and earning all-league second-team honors.
The Panthers' depth does not end there, as senior Elizabeth Brothen returns and three freshmen with a season of college cross country under their belts join the mix. Kristi Schuette competed at the state cross country meet twice in high school and was among UWM's top seven three times in the fall. Stephanie Walker scored once for Milwaukee, as the third scorer at the DePaul Open. Angie Tabrizi showed steady improvement through her first collegiate cross country season.
In school history, Saarinen holds school records in both the indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon, while Olson is second in the pentathlon and fourth in the heptathlon. Both athletes are also in the top 10 in the 60m hurdles, with Saarinen also among the top 10 in the 100m hurdles.
Junior Emily Budde added depth in the multi-events last season and posted the team's top 100m hurdle time outdoors. At the outdoor league meet, she took second to Olson in the heptathlon and earned all-league honors.
Also returning in the hurdles is sophomore Stacey Trczinski. Trczinski dabbled in the multi-events last season, taking fifth in the pentathlon at the league meet and sixth in the heptathlon, but she will likely focus on the hurdles this season.
Corfeld and his staff have added two hurdlers and a multi-event athlete in the freshmen class. Calanetta Burrows and Shelby Schaal will compete in the hurdles after standout prep careers. Burrows was runner-up in both the 100m hurdles and 300m hurdles as a senior and posted the state's 14th-best 300m hurdle time ever. Schaal is also on the state's all-time list in the 300m hurdles, ranking 22nd. She was also third in the state as a senior.
Laura Hamel was a state qualifier in three different events in high school and will compete in multi-events in Milwaukee. She tied for ninth in the high jump at the state meet as a senior, while also qualifying in the 4x200m relay and triple jump during her career.
Zimmerman holds the school record in both the indoor and outdoor triple jump, is second in the indoor long jump and is seventh outdoors. In league competitions, she has earned all-league honors seven times over the two events, with a pair of league titles. Cary is third in the triple jump indoors and sixth outdoors, but is also third in the indoor long jump. Pierce, meanwhile, is second to Zimmerman in both triple jump events.
If those three weren't enough, Saarinen also figures prominently in each jumping event. She is the outdoor long jump record holder and is seventh indoors. The Finland native has also excelled in the high jump, where she won a league title outdoors last season. In school history, she is second outdoors and third indoors. Saarinen has even found success in the triple jump, ranking fifth behind the aforementioned trio indoors and 10th outdoors.
Sophomore Chelsea Von Ruden showed improvement as the season progressed both indoors and outdoors last season. At the indoor league meet, she tied Saarinen as runner-up and captured all-league second team honors. Then, she placed third at the outdoor meet.
Havener is just the latest Panther to excel in the league in pole vault competitions, claiming the last two of seven-straight UWM outdoor pole vault titles. Indoors, Milwaukee has taken the top spot at six of the last eight meets.
Joining Havener in the pole vault will be freshman Courtney Fisher. Fisher was a two-time state qualifier in Illinois during high school. She placed ninth at the state meet as a junior.
She also continues to work her way up the program's most established throwing event in the shot put. Woods sits sixth on the school's top-10 list in the event both indoors and outdoors.
Woods will be joined this season by freshman Desiree Metcalf. Metcalf comes to Milwaukee from Janesville, Wis., where she attended Craig High School.