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Titans end season at Midwest Regional

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The UW Oshkosh men’s and women’s cross country teams took to the course in Rock Island, Illinois, for the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional and took home 10th-and 12th-place finishes, respectively.

This marked the end of the season for both squads as they did not earn automatic or at-large bids based on their performances on Saturday. This ends the two-year streak for the women advancing to the NCAA D-III Championship, while the men have not made the final race since the 2015 season.

Freshmen push men to 10th

Behind the performances of three freshmen, the men’s team earned 312 points and 10th-place in Illinois. UWO finished last out of the seven Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams in the meet, showing how tough the conference is.

Lucas Weber capitalized on his first season for the Titans by finishing in 37th place, with a time of 24:33, equaling out to a mile pace of 4:57.

Weber said his performance in the regional was important to the team’s overall performance, but the 10th-place finish was more of a team effort on Saturday.

“[I did] better than conference,” Weber said. “We wanted to run as a group as long as possible, and we did a really great job at doing that. You can’t really look at times because the course was a little bit short, and it was perfect conditions, so everyone ran [personal records].”

The second of the top-three freshmen, Cody Chadwick, earned a 39th-place tally in 24:36. For Chadwick, this marked his fifth-best finish on the year out of seven meets.

Chadwick said his performance was impressive, but the fact that the top runners kept close and finished near each other matters more.

“Individually, I thought the race was probably my best of the season,” Chadwick said. “Between myself, Weber and Michael Juarez, the gap was only 10 seconds, which is the smallest it has been all year among our top three runners, which really helps when you’re working together throughout the race.”

Rounding out the freshmen leading the way for the Titans was Juarez, who finished five spots back of Chadwick in 44th. Juarez’s finish came after he placed in 19th at the WIAC Championship.

Juarez said throughout the race, he was able to use his competition to drive his performance.

“I thought I raced really well, and I came away with a big PR,” Juarez said. “I don’t think it was my best race as my best race was at conference. It was really nice to have all of the tough competition there to pull me through the whole race, [helping me] never settle into the race and keep it in full gear through the whole race.”

Head coach Eamon McKenna said to round out the year, the team’s showing was not overly strong, but certain runners shined through in its performance.

“I was pleased with the overall focus and approach of our men at the meet,” McKenna said. “As with any meet, you have performances that are very pleasing and performances that aren’t what we were hoping for. At the regional championship, our top three guys, Weber, Chadwick and Juarez, who are all freshmen, executed and pushed together throughout the race. They did an excellent job of competing at this point in their careers.”

Rounding out the finishers for Oshkosh were senior Dan Massey, freshmen Noah Bruehl and Skyler Yunk and junior Bennett Krueger.

Massey rounded out his senior year by finishing in 93rd place with a time of 25:37. This was Massey’s seventh race of the year, which included two top-15 finishes, including 11th in the Davis Invitational and 15th at the Griak Invitational.

McKenna said for Massey to produce like he did in his final competition of his career speaks to how he embodied the UWO way.

“Massey, our only senior racing, finished his career with yet another strong performance,” McKenna said. “[Massey] has been a rock for us this year, and his consistency has been awesome to see.”

Bruehl, Yunk and Krueger finished out the team’s performance on Saturday with a 101st-, 145th- and 167th-place finish, respectively. This marked the eighth race of the season for all three runners.

Chadwick said the team’s performance was impressive, especially when considering the youth it was forced to rely on.

“Over the course of the season, I thought we improved on embracing the next man up mentality,” Chadwick said. “We had a lot of illness and injuries nag our team throughout the year, and I thought that it was an amazing job by such a young core to adapt to being asked to carry more of the weight. This is no small feat for kids who were running in high school track meets just five or six months ago.”

Moore earns individual bid

After leading her team to a 12th-place finish and individually placing in fourth in the regional, senior runner Cheyenne Moore earned a spot in the D-III Championship. Even though the team did not place high enough to earn a bid into the final, she earned a spot by placing in the top seven runners that were not members of championship-qualifying teams.

This is the second consecutive year that Moore finished in fourth place at the Championship as this year she had a time of 20:53, 11 seconds behind the first-place runner.

Supporting the Titans were sophomore Ashton Keene, freshman Hannah Lohrenz, senior Jessica Stamn and freshman Reece Matheson. Keene finished in 32nd, Lohrenz in 76th, Stamn took home 93rd and Matheson finished 118th.

McKenna said even with Moore’s performance, the team did not step up to the challenge and provide support when it was needed the most.

“On the women’s side, we did not step up at the spots we needed to in order to achieve our goal of being top-10,” McKenna said.

In last year’s race, Keene and Stamn both ran for the Titans. Keene earned 48th and Stamn ran to a 104th-place tally in 2016.

Senior Cammy Garvelink and sophomore Amanda Van Den Plas rounded out the runners for Oshkosh. Garvelink ran to 123rd and Van Den Plas finished in 167th place in her fifth race of the season.

As a whole, McKenna said the team fell short of its goal of placing in the top-10 in the region and top-5 in the WIAC schools. However, he said there were positive aspects of the race that were able to be picked up.

“We faced a lot of challenges, and new people were thrust into more prominent roles,” McKenna said. “Stamn and Garvelink had up and down seasons, but finished on a high note, and their presence as seniors, along with our top runner Moore, at least gave us some stable, veteran leadership that helped the younger women. Despite the frustration of the things we couldn’t control, our group of men and women all responded positively and stuck together to maximize their potential this year.”

Looking ahead to 2018

Both teams will look to replicate this season’s successes while trying to replace different levels of talent that will be leaving.

For the men, the trio that led them in the championship will be returning for their sophomore campaigns, solidifying the core for a number of years to come. The team will only lose three runners, as Massey, Trevor Damkot and Mitch Pauers all will be graduating.

On the women’s side, Moore’s UWO career will end after she runs in the championship race on Saturday. Along with Moore, Garvelink and Stamn are graduating and the team will need to fill the lost production from these three runners.

Summing up Moore’s career, McKenna said she fought back from adversity to leave a legacy at Oshkosh for years to come.

“Cheyenne will acknowledge she is not the best vocal leader, and she has grown in that regard, although that remains a work in progress, but she will leave behind a legacy of greatness and competitiveness as a runner, including two WIAC Individual Championships and two trips to the NCAA Championships, and she will be remembered for a work ethic and a desire to seek out ways to improve that most others will not,” McKenna said. “Her unique desire sets her apart as an outstanding Titan student athlete.”

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Titans end season at Midwest Regional