Track finishes 10th and 25th at nationals

Cory Sparks, Editor in Chief

UWO Track
Courtesy of UWO athletics
Wilburn came in first with a school record of 50-11

The UW Oshkosh track and field team finished 10th (men) and 25th (women) at the NCAA Division III Indoor National Championship on Saturday.

The Titan men scored 25 points; UW-Eau Claire won the national championship as a team. The Titan women scored 9 points; Loras College (Iowa) won the national championship.

Jonathan Wilburn finished with a triple jump score of 50 foot, 10 inches to win the national championship, and he set a UWO record in doing so.

Other UWO All-America finishers for the men were Steven Potter (second in the 800-meter run), Jaylen Grant (third in the 60-meter dash) and Rashaad Henderson, Bo Koehn, Amitai Wheat and Ryan Potter (eighth in the 1600-meter relay).

UWO All-America women finishers were Alexandria Demco (third in the mile run) and Riley Kindt (sixth in the 60-meter hurdles).

Grant made it a priority to make the 60-meter dash final. Leading up to the final race, he said he was experiencing some nerves. Before Grant ran his race, coach Justin Kinseth, who was recognized as the North Region Men’s Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year, calmed him down.

“The morning of the 60-meter finals I was pretty nervous, I won’t lie,” Grant said. “But I had a conversation with my coach and calmed down before we left the hotel.”

Aaron McCarroll-Richardson, who qualified for the 60-meter dash and 200-meter dash, said his expectations weren’t sky-high going into the event. He said he was definitely going to try to make some noise.

“I wanted to perform,” McCarroll-Richardson said. “My expectation was that I wasn’t supposed to score, but why not try to?”

Grant, a four-time All-American, said he felt grateful for the opportunity, but he wasn’t fully pleased with his results. Grant’s 6.82 time put him just a tenth of a second behind Ithaca’s Jalen Leonard-Osbourne, who won the event.

“Overall, I am happy with my performance and blessed to be a four-time All American,” he said. “By no means am I satisfied with that performance, and I know I can do better, but at least my times were consistent.”

McCarroll-Richardson ran a 6.86, finished 12th in the 60-meter dash and was marked with a false start in the 200-meter dash.

McCarroll-Richardson said that the team fell way short of expectations. He said there was a sense of frustration and hunger following what felt like a loss for the unit.

“We fell short, big time,” McCarroll-Richardson said. “It took a toll on us for a short time, but I was proud to see the anger and drive in us to do better.”

While the trip didn’t end in the result the UWO track and field team hoped for, Grant said he appreciated being able to travel and compete with his team. Grant brought up the heartache he and others felt when the indoor national championship was canceled two years ago due to COVID-19.

“Two years ago we were at [JDL Fast Track] and had practices, and the next day the national meet was canceled,” Grant said. “I remembered how that opportunity was simply taken from me and my teammates. It was a blessing to be on a coach bus full of my teammates traveling together.”

McCarroll-Richardson said the team will be able to treat this trip as a learning experience that can benefit all competitors going forward.

“It served as a reminder for us heading into our next season,” he said. “The small laughs, the drive and the environment for practicing all contributed to how we will perform differently the next time.”

Grant said while he didn’t get first place in the 60-meter dash, he felt validated as one of the fastest sprinters in the country. He also said he felt that the underclassmen who qualified can use this experience to prepare them for the months ahead.

“I personally learned that I’m one of the best in this division and that I belong at the top with the best of the best,” he said. “I think as a team the experience our younger athletes gained will help them develop into this upcoming outdoor season.”

McCarroll-Richardson said that the team is prepared to use this experience as one to motivate them going forward. With national championship number 48 for the school nearly in the grasp of the track and field team, he said they’re ready to push harder than ever to get it.

“I know this team is not satisfied. We realized that anything can happen, and we want another trophy,” McCarroll-Richardson said. “We are Titans. We want to create change.”