Cross-country team runs well, prepares for Regionals

Billy Piotrowski, Sports Writer

The UW Oshkosh cross-country team is coming off a solid showing at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship last Saturday. Out of the eight conference teams competing, the Titan men placed fifth and the women placed third.

The Titans have been working all season on improving their running as a group, and it has been showing all season as UWO has consistently been close to, or in the top half of teams in every race this season.

Head coach Eamon McKenna said the strategy he had preached all season paid off for the UWO women’s team.

“We have been growing in our ability to run together and run with purpose, and I was looking for that to stand out on Saturday,” McKenna said. “The women did an excellent job overall, and we achieved our end goal of finishing third in the conference.”

McKenna said the men’s team struggled to execute the game plan they set before the race.

“The men had some nice individual performances, but we did not have enough of them in our front group to finish where we wanted to as a team,” McKenna said. “We did not do a great job of staying together on that side or of executing our strategy.”

McKenna said that on the women’s team, the personal improvement of all of the student-athletes lays the groundwork for a promising performances at the Division III Regionals on Nov. 10.

“Our women continue to improve in confidence and racing strategy each week,” McKenna said. “Evlyn Noone continues to gain experience in her first year of collegiate cross-country, and earning First Team All-Conference honors is a huge honor.”

McKenna said Noone wasn’t the only runner to perform well for the women’s team.

“Hannah Lohrenz ran her best race ever to earn Second Team All-Conference honors. Amanda Van Den Plas and Ashton Keene continue to improve with each week, and Elizabeth Reddeman has battled back from 18 months of injury to run her best race ever. We also had personal records run by Tayah Cunningham and Melissa Srnka, which was great to see. ”

McKenna said he saw bright spots from the men’s team Saturday despite the disappointing team finish.

“On the men’s side, Lucas Weber and Cody Chadwick both ran the best races of their young careers,” McKenna said. “They both earned Second Team All-WIAC honors a year after being outside of the top 25 at the same meet. Justin Skinkis continues to provide veteran leadership and solid performances, while Steven Potter, Fabian Salinas and Kiernan Koepke all ran personal records.

“Although we struggled at a few scoring positions and one of our top runners, Andrew Muskevitsch, competed with a serious injury, we did have some highlights that give us hope for Regionals in two weeks.”

At the end of the WIAC championship, sophomore Cody Chadwick was the second-highest finisher for the Titan men, claiming 12th with a time of 25:25.2, just 10 seconds behind fellow sophomore and eighth-place finisher Lucas Weber.

Chadwick said that championship season seems to push everyone to their absolute best.

“Heading into the conference meet, everybody seems to elevate their focus to another level,” Chadwick said. “The WIAC is arguably the best conference in the nation, so you really have to come prepared and in the right mindset to compete during the championship portion of the season.”

The two-top finishers for the Titan women were Lohrenz taking ninth individually with a time of 22:47.2, a little over 20 seconds behind Noone, who took sixth.

Lohrenz talked about her focus throughout the race, specifically her focus toward her personal goal of finishing in the top quarter of the field.

“My mindset heading into the race was that I needed to be in the top portion of the race to stay engaged and competitive,” Lohrenz said. “I also had a goal of being in the top 14.”

The Titans have been meeting and exceeding goals all season and now set their sights on the NCAA D-III Midwest Regional which is being held at the Whitetail Golf Course in Colfax, Wisconsin, the same course as the WIAC championship. This will be UWO’s third time racing at Whitetail this season.

With regionals a little over a week away, McKenna said the Titans’ goals are to gain cohesiveness among the team and continue to improve in the season’s biggest race.

“I’m looking forward to both teams continuing to grow together, and we are hoping to be able to toe the line in two weeks healthy and confident,” McKenna said. “The goal on the women’s side is to finish top-seven in the Region. On the men’s side, we want to finish in the top-seven in the region, as well. We have been ranked eighth all year, and we know we are capable of improving upon that.”

Oshkosh will compete in the NCAA D-III Regional on Nov. 10. The first race starts at noon at the Whitetail Golf Course in Colfax, Wisconsin.