Four Titans take first in La Crosse

Evan Moris, Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh men’s and women’s track and field team competed at the UW-La Crosse Phil Esten Challenge last Friday.

The Titan men finished in second place out of 20 teams with a score of 114.50. Conference rival UW-La Crosse took first with a score of 149.50.

Senior sprinter Ryan Powers led the charge for the Titans posting the school record and nations season-best 400-meter run time at 47.30 seconds. Junior sprinter Todd Beadle followed Powers to a second place finish at 49.07 seconds.

Powers is currently fifth in the nation in the 200-meter dash and 47th in the 100-meter dash. He said his confidence when he steps on the track never waivers.

“I have an aggressive mentality when I get into the blocks, and I execute my race strategy to the best of my ability every time,” Powers said. “I know how fast I am, so I just tell myself to go out there and dominate.”

Oshkosh had two other winners in La Crosse. Junior Joe Vils set a personal record and Division III second-best height in the pole vault, clearing 16-9 1/4 feet. Vils beat all 29 other competitors breaking his PR three times on Saturday.

Vils said his performance in La Crosse was special but there are new heights and goals to reach.

“I want to get to 17 [feet], I think that would be a really cool accomplishment,” Vils said. “My goal is to get the indoor and outdoor school records.”

The final winner for the men came from sophomore Jonathan Wilburn in the triple jump with a measurement of 47-2 1/4. Wilburn is currently ranked third in the nation in the triple jump with a season long of 48-6 feet.

Jared Benson, Adam Tallman and Jamyle Brantley finished fifth, sixth and seventh in the triple-jump with skips of 43-10 1/2, 43-10 1/2 and 43-4 1/2, respectively. Brantley also finished third in the long jump with a leap of 23-0 1/2.

The Titan men had three second-place finishes last weekend. Junior Justin Rivers took second in the high jump at 6-6 3/4, Robert Ogbuli in the 200-meter dash with a time of 10.82 seconds and Bailey Quinn in the hammer throw with a toss of 187-7.

The Titans had two third-place finishes from Nick Tegtmeier and Darquise Winters. Tegtmeier took third in the shot put with a measurement of 52-1 3/4, and Winters cleared a height of 6-2 3/4 in the high jump.

The UWO women placed eighth out of 21 teams with 36 points. UW-La Crosse won the women’s side with 168 points.

Titan standout Lauren Wrensch continued her season-long domination in the long jump with a leap of 19-2 3/4, defeating all other 37 competitors. Wrensch is ranked No.1 in D-III in the long jump with her season-high jump of 19-4. Wrensch is the only one in the nation to clear 19 feet twice this season.

In addition to her long jump victory, Wrensch won the 400-meter run with a time of 57.38 seconds, posting the 15th best time this season. Wrensch defeated second-place finisher Mara Schroeder by over a second.

Wrensch said she’s not competing against anyone, only herself.

“Posting winning performances is never usually my main goal for these meets as I am just looking to beat my own personal bests, but it is always an added bonus,” Wrensch said.

As the events begin to ramp up with Drake Relays and Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships in the next two weeks, Wrensch said she’s fine-tuning herself for the final stretch of the year.

“I am looking to start dropping time in my open running events to set myself up nicely for conference success and national qualifications as well,” Wrensch said. “For long jump, I am looking to put together some good marks as I continue to works towards the outdoor school record.”

Titan senior Taylor Pralle finished fourth out of 39 participants in the 100-meter dash with a season-best time of 12.54 seconds.

Pralle said her season-best performance on Saturday will motivate her in her final outdoor season to reach personal goals.

“My goal is to get a new lifetime PR because that just missed out at nationals last year,” Pralle said. “My goal is to get to nationals in the 100 and our four-by-four to nationals as well.”

Pralle alongside teammates Lindsay Denu, Alexandra Demco and Melissa Srnka finished sixth 1,600-meter relay with a time of 4:03.99. Sophomore Hannah Lohrenz took sixth as well in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:44.24.

Pralle said her relay team and the rest of the UWO roster has the ambition to qualify for nationals when they compete at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa this weekend.

“Everybody that is going to be at Drake, it’s our goal to get to the next level and secure a spot at nationals,” Pralle said.

With such a young team this season, Pralle was selected as a team captain to help guide the team. Pralle said she and the other captains have taken the role seriously to help the team grow.

“Leading by example and getting everyone excited for others,” Pralle said. “When they PR, the whole team should be happy. We’re trying to bring a winning mentality where everybody wants each other to PR as much as they want themselves to.”

The UWO track and field squad will travel to the prestigious Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa April 25-27.