CEDAR FALLS — Dave Paulsen’s men’s and women’s cross country teams had a very good weekend at the Joe Paine Invitational in South Bend, Ind., and are going to have an even bigger weekend this week without even competing.

Friday the cross country and track field teams are hosting their first golf outing at Prairie Links in Waverly before hosting a “Decade of Dominance” Reunion Saturday during homecoming, where former Panther head coach Chris Bucknam, the current head coach at Arkansas, will be back in town to celebrate.

UNI won eight consecutive Missouri Valley Conference men’s indoor titles from 2000-08, including Bucknam’s final season with the Panthers when UNI’s men and women swept both the indoor and outdoor MVC championships respectively.

Paulsen was a member of four of those teams from 2000-03, earning all-American honors in 2002 as a member of the Panthers’ distance medley team.

“To have coach Buck come back for this weekend, he will be at our golf outing Friday up in Waverly, then our Decade of Dominance, he was the architect for how well our teams did back then,” Paulsen said. “To have him come back for this event means a lot for me because it shows his support to what we are trying to do with the program.

“The experience I had as a student-athlete was why I wanted to become a coach with the experience Coach Buck and the other coaches on staff gave to me as a student-athlete and that is what really drives me.”

Last Saturday at the Joe Paine, the women’s team took first.

“For us to win it and the way we did it was really strong,” Paulsen said. “We scored 87 points in a pretty competitive field and the next closest team I believe had 136. What got us there was ability to run so well together as a team.

“Between our first and fifth runner we had only 30 seconds difference between those two and our first and four it was only 17 seconds. The good thing with this group is we can be even better than that.”

The men finished 10th, but once again Paulsen was impressed with the pack running by that group.

“We finished six minutes faster total time,” Paulsen said. “So if you took all five guys that finished in our top five, add their times up and we were six minutes faster this weekend than what we were at in Wisconsin.

“We had one of our best guys out so I think that can be even better ... and the other thing that was exciting was our spread was only 25 seconds from our first to our fifth.”

UNI’s next competition will be Oct. 13 at the Bradley Invitational.

VOLLEYBALL: The Panthers opened Missouri Valley Conference play with a pair of victories over the weekend inside the McLeod Center topping Bradley and Illinois State.

The Panthers (14-4 overall, 2-0 MVC) are on the road this weekend at Indiana State and at Evansville.

“It was incredibly awesome to be at home for only the second and third time this year,” head coach Bobbi Petersen said. “We had great support and a lot of fans out and our kids loved the opportunity to be there.

“I thought when you looked at the matches I thought Bradley was one of the best matches that we played from start to finish in terms of execution.”

Petersen said she doesn’t know much about Indiana State (3-1 in the MVC) and Evansville (0-4) other than some crossover on film they’ve seen scouting other opponents.

“We are looking forward to seeing what we have to do to prepare for those teams, but also the opportunity to get better on our side of the net as well,” Petersen said.

WOMEN’S SOCCER: Bruce Erickson’s squad has continued its winning ways with a 3-1 win over Evansville Saturday and a 3-0 win over Viterbo Monday.

The win Monday helped UNI tie a program record with 10 wins in a season. The Panthers now turn their attention to their first MVC road match Saturday at Missouri State. “Viterbo will be a good organized team for us to play and then it becomes preparation for Missouri State,” Erickson said. “We are pretty much on the road until our last regular-season game with Indiana State so we are getting ready to be traveling every week.”

TIP-OFF BREAKFAST: The UNI men’s and women’s basketball team are inviting the public to a breakfast at the McLeod Center Wednesday morning at 7 a.m.

A program will follow the breakfast at 7:45 a.m.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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