UWO track earns bid to nationals

Trevor Hurst, Sports Writer

The UW Oshkosh track and field athletes competed in a pair of last-chance national qualifying meets in an effort to punch their tickets to the NCAA Division-III Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships this weekend in Birmingham, Alabama.

On March 2 and 3, the top-15 athletes in each event qualified for the national meet. While no Titans qualified for Nationals because of their performances at the last-chance qualifiers, those who competed had strong showings nonetheless.

The Titans did manage to send nine qualifiers to nationals as their performances during the season warranted a national bid.

Carthage Final Qualifier

The first meet of the weekend was the Carthage Final Qualifier hosted by Carthage College on March 2.

The men’s squad had a solid showing in preparation for the national meet, particularly from the 4×400-meter relay team consisting of sophomore Todd Beadle, senior Nick Freitag, junior Justin Skinkis and junior Ryan Powers. This grouping won their event with a time of 3:20.47.

Sophomore sprinter Christian Lopez also impressed, finishing second in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.49 seconds.

The women’s team followed suit, led by junior sprinter Olivia Seeley, who finished first in the 55-meter dash with a time of 7.24 seconds.

Sophomore Cara Volz contributed a pair of solid performances, finishing second in the 55-meter hurdles and third in triple jump.

Pointer National Qualifier

The following day, UWO competed at the Pointer National Qualifier hosted by UW-Stevens Point. It was more of the same for the Titan men, with the usual suspects putting in solid performances for UWO.

Lopez had another solid day, winning the 200-meter dash and taking fifth in the 60-meter sprint.

Senior pole vaulter Devan Gertschen added to the top finishers in his event, tying for first with three other vaulters with a height of 16-1 1/4.

The Titans also had a couple second-place performances from the 4×400-meter relay team consisting of Beadle, Freitag, Skinkis and Powers as well as from sophomore high jumper Jordan Boyd, who jumped to a height of 6-6.

For the women, the top performance came from junior long jumper Lauren Wrensch, who won the event with a distance of 18-5 1/4.

Sophomore pole vaulter Sydney Rau added a second-place finish, clearing a height of 11-3 3/4. Seeley had another strong showing in the 60-meter sprint, finishing third with a time of 7.79 seconds.

Junior sprinter Olivia Seely said the team did very well throughout the weekend.

“I think overall we competed very well,” Seely said. “Many of us were on the bubble of qualifying for nationals so obviously it sucks that some of us didn’t get to go. But everyone who went worked hard and earned their spot.”

Senior sprinter Emily Reichenberger, who ran the 60-meter sprint Saturday, said the meet will help her prepare for competing at that national meet.

“I need to make sure I’m getting myself up to that level of competitive nature,” Reichenberger said.

The Titans will send five men and four women to Birmingham, Alabama for the Division-III Men’s and women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships on March 9 and 10. With the biggest meet of the year on the horizon, Gertschen said it is important for the team to stay focused on their goals.

“The biggest thing for us is to trust ourselves and just do what we’ve been doing all season,” Gertschen said. “All of us have the ability to do something special; we just have to compete and let it happen.”