This spring season is right on track for UWO athletes

Jacob Link, Staff Writer

Courtesy of UWO Athletics Riley Kindt performs a high jump. With a height of 5-3 3/4 she won the event, two inches above the competition.

The indoor track and field season for the Titans is beginning to heat up as they participated in their first meet at Ripon College. The Titans will be looking to make a run at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic conference title after last year’s WIAC indoor track and field championship meet was canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For the men’s side, UW Oshkosh finished as runner-up in the 2020 WIAC championship, scoring and 148.5 points, falling short of UW-La Crosse’s 169 points. The win was UWL’s 19th straight WIAC title.

On the bright side, Oshkosh’s 148.5 points was their highest total since 2003, where they accumulated 168. The Titans, who won the 2009 NCAA indoor championship, finished ninth at the Division III indoor meet in 2019 behind performances from four All-Americans.

UW Oshkosh fifth-year head coach Justin Kinseth brings back 38 former letter winners to this year’s team, including 10 All-Americans from 2020 in Jamyle Brantley (long jump), Andrew George (mile run), Adrian Girone (1,600-meter relay), Jaylen Grant (60-meter dash), Robert Ogbuli (60-meter dash), Steven Potter (800-meter run), Lochlan Siegmeier (heptathlon), Eli Tranel (pole vault), Amitai Wheat (1,600-meter relay) and Jonathan Wilburn (triple jump). Ogbuli and Wilburn were named All-Americans at the 2019 NCAA Division III indoor championships, with fifth place finishes in the 60-meter dash and triple jump, respectively. Wilburn has had outstanding 2020 and 2019 seasons, as he won the WIAC indoor triple jump title both years. Jamyle Brantley won the 2020 WIAC indoor long jump title.

“Robert Ogbuli is a fifth year senior on our sprints squad,” said sophomore Jaylen Grant.. “I believe he will have an outstanding year and I think he will surprise a lot of people with his performances this year.” Grant added: “We lost a couple of seniors who graduated on the men’s and women’s side. But we have brought in some freshmen that I believe will make a big impact this season.”

On the women’s side, the Titans, who have won the WIAC championship 13 times, finished third at the 2020 WIAC indoor championship with 92 points. Once again, UW-La Crosse won the title, scoring 230 points to claim their 27th WIAC crown. UWO finished 27th at the 2019 Division III Championship with nine points.

Oshkosh has scored at least three points at the national meet for the last 34 Division III Championships. The Titans have won nine national titles in women’s indoor track and field, and seven-time runners up, most recently in 2015. Head coach Justin Kinseth welcomes back 38 former letter winners, led by 2020 All-Americans Libby Geisness (800-meter run), Hannah Lohrenz (mile run) and Emma Warr (pole vault). Geisness won the WIAC indoor title for the 800-meter run in 2020. Carla Volz is also a defending champion in the WIAC, where she won the triple-jump crown in 2020 and 2018.

On Nov. 4, the Titans kicked off their season in impressive fashion, as Oshkosh won 14 events in the men’s and women’s events. Saturday’s meet featured athletes from UW Oshkosh, Edgewood College, Carroll University, Ripon College, St. Norbert College and Viterbo University in a non-scoring meet.

Winning events on the men’s side were Jaylen Grant in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.78 seconds, Adrian Girone in the 200-meter dash at 22.68 seconds, Amitai Wheat in the 400-meter run at 50.23 seconds, Ryan Potter in the 800-meter run at 1:53.25, Andrew George in the mile run at 4:17.80, John Thill in the 3,000-meter run at 9:12.67, Mitchell Bradford in the 5,000-meter run at 15:10.66 and Aaron Kiela in the 60-meter hurdles at 8.64 seconds. Jonathan Wilburn also won the triple jump with a measure of 48 feet and 3 ½ inches.

After George’s mile winning run, he said, “It was a decent season opener, but I wanted to run quite a bit faster. The first race of the year is always a reminder of how painful racing is. I do think that the race set me up very well for a fast 3k on Saturday.”

For the women, Riley Kindt won the 60-meter dash with a time of 9.10 seconds and won the high jump with a height of 5 feet and 3 ¾ inches. Amanda Starzynski took first place in the long jump with a distance of 17 feet and 1 ¼ inches. Libby Geisness won the 800-meter run with a time of 2:18:08 and Hannah Lohrenz took first in the mile run with a time of 5:01.27.

Grant said: “My expectations for the team on the men’s side specifically is to win a National Title for our program. The men’s track and field hasn’t won a title since 2009. I believe we’re long overdue. We’ve been so close the past two years and now we just have to put everything together at the end of the season.”

The Titans will look to continue their great form by hosting the UW-Oshkosh Early Bird Invitational on Saturday.