Titans sprint past statewide competition

Michael Johrendt

The UW Oshkosh men’s and women’s cross country teams placed thrid and second, respectively at the Gene Davis Invitational in Appleton on Saturday. For the women, it was business as usual, as they brought home a solid third-place team finish. Sophomore Courtney Holland led the team with a third-place finish, senior Rhea Fiorita and freshman Hannah Thorn followed, finishing 7th and 11th, respectively. Coach Eamon McKenna said this meet provided many opportunities for the women. “We benefit because travel is shorter,” McKenna said. “Which is easier on the legs and on the preparation. It [also] allows for our student athletes to better stay in rhythm with class and staying on a typical schedule.” All runners for Oshkosh finished in the top 33rd, and their leading time of 24:14 was a mere eighteen seconds off the first-place pace. The men had a similar story, taking home second in the 8k. Four men finished in the top 20, and all of the guys finished 34th or better. Sophomore runner Mitch Pauers said that competition exists not only with other schools, but also within schools on a different level. “Now that it’s getting toward championship season, places become more important,” Pauers said. “For the conference meet, each team is allowed 12 racers, and only seven runners are allowed for regionals & nationals. So we have guys battling for those spots, and the friendly competition makes us race harder leading to faster times.” After Mitch and his ninth-place finish set the tone, other runners who placed high for the Titans include sophomore Trevor Damkot (11th) and freshmen Jacob Rost (14th) and Kenny Peters (18th). Coach McKenna was very pleased that this late in the season he was able to rest up some members of the team. “It is very nice to have a meet close to home,” McKenna said. “In this case, we sat out our top 8 men and our top 7 women, so it allowed those athletes to be able to attend the meet to support their teammates.” Leah Rendflesh said it’s helpful to have runners sit out and rest their legs. “It’s always great having a race with all of the teammates, but in some of the meets, when some of us are taking the weekend off, it’s nice having that extra cheering on the course,” Rendflesh said. The women and men will continue pushing toward their respective championship next weekend at the UW Oshkosh AAE Invitational, their first of two consecutive home meets.