Titans CC pushes through at Lake Breeze, prepare for championship

Michael Johrendt

Three Oshkosh men's cross country runners look to pass a UWSP runner during the UW Oshkosh Open in Winneconne.
[/media-credit] Three Oshkosh men’s cross country runners look to pass a UWSP runner during the UW Oshkosh Open in Winneconne.

Hosting a second consecutive meet at the Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne on Oct. 20, the UW Oshkosh men’s cross country team ran to a third place finish in the UW Oshkosh Open. The women’s team did not enter enough runners to fully include a team, so there were only individual runners for the squad in the race.

Men earn third

The men’s squad earned its fourth top-four finish in its last five races and fifth overall this season as it defeated two other teams. This was the final race for the men before running at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship in Whitewater next week.

Pacing the team for Oshkosh were two juniors earning top-seven finishes, led by runner Bennett Krueger. Krueger took home a finish that tied his best of the year with a fifth-place tally, only 42 seconds back of first place.

The second-best runner for the Titans was junior Corbin Bevry, who ran to an eighth-place finish with a time of 28:11. For Bevry, this was his best finish of the year by 28 spots as he finished in 36th place at the Gene Davis Invitational.

Next up for UWO were sophomores Henry Laste and Collin Borazo, who took home 12th and 14th places, respectively. For both Laste and Borazo, this marked the runners’ highest finishes of the season so far.

With the constant improvements the team has made during the season, head coach Eamon McKenna said the dedication the team has shown throughout the year has paid dividends in both race results and team cohesion.

“We have seen a lot of improvement on the men’s side in ability to handle aggressive mileage and workout efforts,” McKenna said. “We are young, so a lot of it comes naturally, but they are doing a great job of pushing each other on a daily basis.”

Rounding out the top finishers for the men were sophomore Jack Rindahl, freshman Andrew George and senior Mitch Pauers. Rindahl earned a 19th-place finish at 28:46, George finished in 21st and Pauers rounded out the top-seven Titan runners, as Pauers earned 31st-place.

For all three runners, this marked the best races of their seasons to date, with this only being Pauers’ second meet so far over the course of the year.

Freshman runner Lucas Weber, who placed fourth in last week’s Kollege Town Sports Invitational and also ran last week at Lake Breeze, said with the races being ran at the same location but differing each time, the team was able to gain some confidence going into the upcoming conference championship run.

“Both courses are fast,” Weber said. “[We were] just looking to run fast before we run conference and then we can bring everything together.”

Women rest up for WIAC

On the women’s side, the team rested most of its runners in preparation for the upcoming WIAC Championship meet hosted by UW-Whitewater. The team only had four runners participate at the open, led by freshman Lexus Brown.

Brown took home her best finish of the year, running a 26:37 race to earn seventh place. Right behind her in eighth place was sophomore Amanda Van Den Plas, who also had her best finish of the season in only her fourth race.

Seven seconds and two places behind Van Den Plas was sophomore runner Melissa Srnka in 10th, followed by freshman Lorraine Tenpenny in 21st with a time of 28:56.

Sophomore Ashton Keene said coming into the season, the team laid out athletic and academic goals for the year, something she said helped drive the team to be better and better every week.

“The goal this year is to build ourselves throughout the season towards being at our best for the last few big meets,” Keene said. “We want to rank high at Conference and compete for the opportunity to race at Nationals again. Additionally, our team would like to attain Academic All-American status, which requires a composite 3.1 GPA.”

Closing out the team’s conference schedule is the WIAC Championship, which will be run in Whitewater on Saturday. For the women, the team looks to make it 17 WIAC championships, while the men look to bring the title back to Oshkosh for the first time since 2011.

Last season, the men’s squad earned a fourth-place finish in the WIAC Championship, which was ultimately won by UW-Eau Claire. Leading the charge for the Titans was senior runner Tyler Miletti, who took home sixth place out of 87 runners.

For the women’s team, junior Cheyenne Moore ran to an individual victory and helped lead the team to a second-place finish in last year’s conference race. She was supported by seniors Kristen Linzmeier and Erica Munyan, who ran to a sixth-place and a eighth-place finish, respectively.

In McKenna’s coaching career, he has one WIAC championship under his belt. In the 2015 season, the women earned their first title since 2000.