On Sept. 9, 2016, Katie Breuckman ran her first college cross country race, in River Falls, Wis. The freshman was the Tommies' No. 12 runner on the sunny Friday, placing 36th overall in a time of 25:45.
She averaged 6:55 per mile over the mostly flat 6,000-meter course (3.66 miles).
On Sept. 9, 2017, Breuckman ran the first CC race of her sophomore season, in Decorah, Iowa. On this crisp September morning, the Andover, Minn., native was the Tommies' No. 1 runner, and third collegiate finisher, clocking 19:22 and leading the Tommies to the team crown at the Luther Invite.
She averaged 6:13 per mile over the hilly 5,000-meter course (3.10 miles).
Coach Joe Sweeney graduated three steady seniors that over the last three seasons were fixtures at or near the top of his lineup. A few of Joe's veteran runners are coming off injuries, but thanks to Breuckman and a contingent of young Tommies, No. 17-ranked UST didn't miss a beat.
In all, nine St. Thomas runners finished in the top 22, separated by just 63 seconds. Seven are in their first or second season of college running.
Finishing between 11th and 22nd place were junior Bridget Schmitt (19:51), freshman Carly Scheuerman (19:56), senior Jenny Walz (20:03), junior Amber Matzoll (20:16), and sophomore Molly Clarke (20:25).
Breuckman's improvement won't surprise her hometown friends. A Chemistry major and A-student at UST, she was ranked second in her class academically at Andover High, and was that's school's Athena Award recipient. She competed in two state meets in both nordic skiing and cross country for the Huskies.
Another young gun, newcomer Scheuerman, started her prep career as a sprinter and hurdler. She set school records at St. Croix Prep in the open 400 plus the 4x200 and 4x400 relays. Scheuerman's hometown is St. Mary's Point, population 370, along the St. Croix River near Afton.
Men's Cross Country
Karl Wachter can match Katie Breuckman's one-year improvement curve. The sophomore from Shakopee, Minn., was the Tommie Men's No. 1 finisher last Friday night in Moorhead and helped UST place third at the MSU Moorhead Twilight. Wächter on Tuesday was named MIAC Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Week.
In his transition to college running in fall 2016, Wachter had some usual freshman ups and downs. He was the Toms' No. 6 runner at Carleton and No. 8 runner in Ohio, and was the Tommies' No. 12 runner on two other occasions. In his last cross country race he was No. 17 runner at the 11-team conference meet. He posted a 94th-place finish at the hilly, 8,000-meter (4.97-mile) MIAC course at St. Paul's Como Park.
In his debut race of 2017, Wachter took fourth overall in a 6,000-meter time of 18:53 -- a 3:09 per 1K average. He was the third collegian finisher, 10 seconds behind two Division II athletes.
Wachter and fellow sophomores Spencer Urick, George McGivern and Scott Helstad plus freshman Carl Kozlowski give Coach Pete Wareham five first or second-year runners currently in his top 10. Urick was the Toms' third finisher Friday in Moorhead.
The Tommies will compete Sept. 23 at the Williams (Mass.) Invite.
- Tommie Football is at No. 10;
- Men's Soccer is at No. 11;
- Men's Golf is at No. 24;
- Women's Cross Country is at No. 17.
- Volleyball joined the national poll at No. 23.
St. Thomas (7-1) takes a seven-match win streak into Wednesday's road contest at Concordia-Moorhead. It's the conference opener for both teams. Coach Thanh Pham's team has a record of 21-1 in sets since dropping a season-opening match 3-0 to Pacific Lutheran.
Senior Whitney Lloyd leads all MIAC players in solo blocks (31) and hitting percentage (.314). But balance has been the rule so far:
- five different Toms have at least one double-digit kill performance in the last five matches;
- four different UST players have made all-tournament teams in the first two weeks of the season;
- Pham used 17 players last weekend in the Augsburg tourney.
When the unranked Tommies topped No. 2-ranked Northwestern-St. Paul last Friday at the Augsburg Invite (28-26, 25-23, 25-21), it was the highest ranked team the program has beaten in five seasons. The previous top-2 upset was more memorable: No. 1-ranked Calvin took a 2-0 lead over Pham's team in the 2012 NCAA championship match before St. Thomas roared back for a 3-2 victory to claim the national championship.
The Toms also beat No. 16-ranked UW-La Crosse, 3-0.
St. Thomas (1-1) opens MIAC play Saturday at Carleton. Kickoff is 1:10 p.m. in Northfield at historic Laird Stadium. The Toms are coming off a 25-22 road loss at UW-Stout, a game that was tied 14-14 at halftime.
Over the last seven seasons, St. Thomas Football is 67-0 in games when it leads at halftime, but just 3-10 in games when it is tied or trails.
Sophomore Emitt Peisert opened the Stout game with a 65-yard kickoff return to set up the Tommies' first touchdown. Peisert is averaging 42 yards on four career kickoff returns.
The Tommie women placed seventh of 20 teams last weekend at the Wartburg (Iowa) tournament. They will compete next weekend in Lake City at the D3 Classic.
Senior Emily Thul shot 75 on Sunday and finished at 153 for the weekend to tie for 10th place. It was the 16th career round of 76 or better for Thul.
The St. Thomas men compete next weekend at the St. John's Fall Invite.