Oshkosh track makes WIAC history in Platteville

Cory Sparks, Editor-in-Chief

UWO track team
Courtesy Jacob

The UW Oshkosh track and field team finished in first (men) and third (women) at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) championship in Platteville Saturday.

The men’s team had 172 event points and earned its first WIAC Championship since 2001, and the women’s team had 97 event points and finished in the top four in a league meet to continue its streak dating back to 1985.

The men’s first place winners in their respective events were Davian Willems in the 60-meter dash (6.72, tying Jaylen Grant’s UWO record), Ryan Potter in the 400-meter run (49.18), Steven Potter in the 800-meter run (1:54.82), Caleb Cornelius in the high jump (6-8 3/4) and Jonathan Wilburn in the triple jump (49-8 1/2).

The women’s first place winners in their respective events were Alexandria Demco in the 800-meter run (2:16.41) and the mile run (5:01.26), Riley Kindt in the 60-meter hurdles (8.64, WIAC record) and Hannah Lohrenz, Libby Geisness, Cyna Madigan and Demco in the distance medley relay (11:57.65).

Grant, who ran a 6.86 in the 60-meter dash for sixth and a 22.12 in the 200-meter dash for third, said he wasn’t pleased with his time in the 60-meter dash, but he was happy to set a personal record in the 200-meter dash.

“My performance in the 60-meter dash was lackluster compared to the standards I set for myself,” Grant said. “However my performance in the 200-meter dash was a lifetime best.”

Grant has qualified for nationals in the 60-meter dash, and he is waiting to see whether his 200-meter dash time was low enough or not.

With the men’s team winning the WIAC championship for the first time in 20 years, Grant said he feels honored to be a part of a team that is making history.

Grant, a junior, was born in 2001. With this in mind, he said he felt proud when realizing the team had won their first indoor conference championship since he was born. He also said finishing second in the conference for the last two years made this victory even sweeter for him and the team.

“The heartbreak we have endured the last two seasons makes this moment extremely special to me,” he said. “UW-La Crosse has been a powerhouse in the WIAC since the year I was born, and it feels incredible to be part of the team that took them down.”

Grant also said that while he wanted to win and excel in his individual events, he found it just as important to be a contributor in defeating UWL for the WIAC title. Even as he stepped up and prepared to run in his events, he said taking out La Crosse was on his mind.

“My mentality as I prepared for my events was to obviously do my best and try to win,” Grant said. “[But it was] also to do anything in my power to beat La Crosse.”

As Oshkosh moves past their first conference win in two decades, they retain their position as the number one men’s team in the country according to the NCAA Division III Team Rankings and Poll Central.

They have retained this national spot since the first rankings came out on Jan. 25.

The women’s team was ranked as high as fifth in the NCAA Division III Team Rankings and Poll Central on Jan. 25.

While Grant was happy to celebrate a conference victory with his teammates, he said all national qualifiers have their eyes set on the bigger picture.

“Our team has a bright future ahead of us, and for the people who are already qualified for nationals, we understand the assignment at hand,” he said.

UWO will travel to Wartburg College and Ripon College starting at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday for the last chance NCAA qualifiers.

The NCAA Division III Indoor Championship will be held on March 11 and 12 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Grant said the team understands what it’s capable of, and he said his teammates have fully dedicated themselves to win the team’s first national title in 13 years.

“We know we have a chance to win a national title, and we [will do] whatever it takes to achieve that,” Grant said.