Men’s and women’s cross country prep teams for nationals

Michael Johrendt

The UW Oshkosh men’s and women’s cross country teams ran at the Division III Midwest Regional in Illinois on Nov. 21 and both placed high as the men secured fourth place and the women took home second. With the men’s performance, senior Jordan Carpenter led the charge with a time of 24:11:13 for a fifth-place finish and was 40 seconds off the pace. He was joined by freshman Wal Khat [11th] and junior Charlend Howard [34th] helping the Titans end up fourth out of 38 teams. Carpenter said he trained well there and it was a possibility to finish in the top six. “I led a good portion of the first mile to make sure we were on a good pace,” Carpenter said. “That allowed the top six guys to break away from the rest of the field.” Junior Tyler Miletti was next up for the Titans in 45th, senior Roberto Lara in 52nd, junior Joe Zack in 71st, and freshman Brian McKnight in 102nd place. Coach Eamon McKenna said he was very pleased with the men’s performance, even though it may not have been at full strength. “The men had a very strong day without it being a great performance,” Mckenna said. “We struggled a little bit at the number three and number five spot, but we had some guys step up to help carry the load this week, and we’ll get to move on to Nationals.” Both teams were able to qualify for their DIII Championships due to their performances. The women finished five runners in the top 30. Their final two earned 60th and 94th-place finishes, having all runners finish in the top 100. Sophomore Hannah Kuenzi led the Titans with a 7th-place finish, with seniors Kylee Verhasselt, Danica Harrison, sophomore Erica Munyan and senior Leah Rendflesh all registering top-30 finishes. With finishes of 7th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 30th, 60th and 94th, the Titans registered their second consecutive finish in the top two. Rendflesh said being able to face this type of competition may seem daunting on paper, but it ended up benefiting the Titans after all. “It’s definitely a great confidence boost,” Rendflesh said. “We had teams in the region that beat us by 140 points earlier in the season, and then we ended up taking second. It just proves the team is ready to compete when it really matters and that we shouldn’t be afraid to run with anyone.” Rendflesh said it’s nice to be a part of something special while running at UWO. “That was also our highest place as a team since 2003 so it’s awesome to be a part of that experience,” Rendflesh said. “Having the national race on our home course is really a great advantage. Knowing that all of family, friends, and track teammates will be there to support us is very exciting.” Sophomores Kristen Linzmeier and Isabella Tremonti finished 60th and 94th, respectively, rounding out the top 100 for the Titans. McKenna said the atmosphere of this past race was not a factor for either team. “Our strength of schedule allows us to get accustomed to racing in big meet environments against strong competition,” McKenna said. “In particular at the Regional Meet, it is a benefit to know that we have to bring our top performance in order to qualify and advance to Nationals. We know that we have a strong team just by qualifying out of such a deep, talented Regional.” This upcoming week, both teams compete in the race they have trained for the entire season: the NCAA DIII Championship held in Winneconne.