Track and field earns All-Americans

Sean Maloney

UW Oshkosh had six different athletes, three women and three men, earn All-American honors at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships that were held in Grinnell, Iowa on March 11 and 12. Zachary Baehman, Ryan Powers and Wal Khat all earned All-American honors for the men as Oshkosh placed 13th as a team with 13 points at the championships. Baehman finished third in the shot put, while Powers placed sixth in the 400-meter run and Khat finished fifth in the 800-meter run. Powers and Khat earned All-American honors in their freshman years, while Baehman earned his third consecutive honor as a senior. On the women’s side, Taylor Sherry earned her third indoor All-American honor while Elizabeth Abhold and Emily Reichenberger both earned their first All-American honors as the Oshkosh women’s team finished 17th with 11 points at the event. Sherry had the highest finish with fourth in the 60-meter hurdles, while Reichenberger and Abhold finished sixth in the 200-meter dash and 20-pound weight throw, respectively. Sherry said a combination of the coaches and realizing the potential she had were some of the driving forces behind her All-American honors in the past two years. “If you listen to what the coaches tell you to do, generally you’re going to perform better,” Sherry said. “After my sophomore year I did pretty well in the multi and thought if I tried a little bit harder maybe I could qualify [for nationals].” Head track and field coach Ben Dorsey said he has been impressed with how far Sherry has come since her freshman year. “From where she was as a freshman and a sophomore to where she is now is astounding,” Dorsey said. “She has been very coachable and has made all the changes we have asked of her.” Leading up the national championships, Sherry said she was mostly focused on the beginning of her races to better her time at the event. “I was just really focused on my starts because I knew the girls I was going up against had good starts,” Sherry said. “I knew if I was going to be able to stick with them I’d really have to get out.” After earning All-American honors in two events last year, Sherry said it was nice to be able to put all of her attention on one event this year instead of having to focus on multiple events like she did in the past. After a hiccup in her hurdle race during the outdoor season last year, Sherry came back even more motivated this season to perform better than in her previous years. “I kind of came back over the summer like an underdog, I’ve got to make up for that mistake in outdoors,” Sherry said. “I’m never satisfied either and I’m hungry for more and I also wanted to help contribute to the team’s success as well.” Being a senior, Sherry only has the outdoor season left until her track career comes to an end. She said she is going to miss competing, but will miss her teammates even more. Dorsey said he is also going to miss Sherry, as she has been an integral part of the track and field program the past four years as well as being the type of student-athlete that every coach hopes for. “Taylor is self-made,” Dorsey said. “She is the model athlete and has done everything right both on and off the track for us.” Sherry’s final piece of advice for fellow athletes is to always do more than what a coach asks. “I think the hardest thing about wanting to get better, and actually doing it, is holding yourself accountable,” Sherry said. “Am I really working the hardest I can? As well as just going above and beyond is what’s going to set you apart.” Reichenberger on the other hand said when transitioning between her freshman and sophomore year, she wanted to set goals greater than that her freshman year. “I wanted to set my goals higher than just getting to nationals,” Reichenberger said. “I wanted to be up on that podium to earn an individual All-American and help score points for my team.” Reichenberger said he has had a different experience than other track athletes on the team. She spent the fall semester of 2015 studying in California through an exchange program. She said being by herself made her have to take training that much more seriously. “Since I was all by myself doing my training and workouts, I made sure to always hold myself accountable,” Reichenberger said. “I didn’t slow down even for warmups, and even when I wanted to I never took a longer rest and always hit my times.” Dorsey said he was impressed with Reichenberger’s ability to stay on top of her workouts while being away from campus. “Emily’s work ethic really came through this year,” Dorsey said. “For her to do what she had done while being away has been a true testament to her competitiveness.” Nationals for Reichenberger was different from last year to this year she said. During her freshman year she was a rookie, while this year she was a bit more experienced. That helped her go into the tournament with more confidence and a better attitude. Reichenberger said she is looking forward to summer. However, staying dedicated to work outs can be tough sometimes. “Training in the summer is not only difficult because of the tough workouts and lifts, but it’s also hard to find the time during a day full of a summer job,” Reichenberger said. “This summer I’m going to make sure that I’m holding myself accountable for all the work that needs to be put in.” Abhold, a junior thrower from Fremont, said believing in herself more, as well as help from coaches, helped her make All-American after being a national qualifier last year. “One thing that was key this year was just being more confident in my abilities,” Abhold said. “Also having a coach and team that were as passionate and excited during competition as I was really helped.” Dorsey said Abhold used that experience last year to better herself heading into this season. “Earning your first All-American is always the hardest,” Dorsey said. “She has embraced the process and built on previous experiences. Her potential is limitless.” Abhold is currently one of the team captains and hopes to continue to use that role going forward into the outdoor season and her senior year. “I’m lucky to be a team captain along with four seniors,” Abhold said. “They show me what it takes to be a good leader and a good teammate. I think that keeping everyone driven and focused while also having fun will be key for next year.” Powers, a freshman sprinter from Howard, said he was excited to be performing at such a high level but was glad some upperclassmen were there to calm him down before his race. Powers said he had high goals coming into his freshman year, knowing that nationals was a very good possibility. “I had the goal to go to nationals this whole year, because I knew I had the talent to get there,” Powers said. “But to finish in the top eight for All-American was a bit of a surprise.” Powers said that while the nerves were a factor going into nationals, there were some technical aspects he was looking to work on. “Well my start has always been the worst part of my race I think,” Powers said. “When I can get to top speed and starting running is when I have the most confidence.” During indoor regular season, Powers was running slower average times than he did in high school, he said. However, as the season progressed, his times started to get better. Some of his teammates even made comments about how much better he was getting, Power said. Dorsey said he was also impressed with both Powers’ athletic talent as well his mentality throughout the year. “For freshmen to come in and do well at nationals is rare, but he’s a rare athlete,” Dorsey said. “But their ability to stay mentally sharp and bigger than the moment is what made them successful.” Powers said with setting the bar so high freshman year, he will continue to work to place higher in coming years. “Since I already placed sixth in indoor and I was proud of myself then, now it’s about getting to All-American again,” Powers said. “In the coming years it’s going to be a huge goal of mine to place first at All-American.” All of Oshkosh’s All-Americans will look to build off their successful indoor seasons as they begin the outdoor season on Sunday, April 10, at the Rex Foster Invitational in Whitewater.