Titans finish strong in recent races

UW Oshkosh women took 10th and the men took 17th at the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Invitational as well as first at the Roy Griak Invitational last weekend


Elizabeth Reddeman

UWO sophomore Aaron Dorsey runs with a pack of competitors at the UW-Eau Claire meet. Dorsey finished in 272 out of 430 runners.

The UW Oshkosh cross-country teams competed in multiple races last weekend. The men ran a split squad between Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29, and the women ran on the 28th.

The men and women on Friday ran in the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Invitational. The men placed 17th out of 29 teams overall, and the women placed 10th out of 25 in their respective races.

The men were down eight of their top runners due to the Roy Griak Invitational being on the 29th. Despite being down, head coach Eamon McKenna said he was very pleased with the men’s performance on Friday.

“We weren’t concerned with our team finish on Friday, but were more focused on our men running with purpose, competing as a group and chasing personal records,” McKenna said. “The group that competed at Eau Claire on Friday had a good day overall. Justin Skinkis led the way with a very strong effort, running his second-best time ever. Fabian Salinas had his best race ever, as did Kiernan Koepke and Parker Scheld. Those four in particular, I was very pleased with — they demonstrated a lot of focus and an ability to get out of their comfort zone. Zach Molland, Bob Szymanski, Collin Borazo and Aaron Dorsey also had strong efforts.”

Salinas finished 101st in the Blugold Invitational with a time of 26:54.3.

Salinas said the youth of the team and how they continue to support and push each other the way they do has been a key so far this season.

“We are are a younger team and hope to push one other for the benefit of the overall team,” Salinas said. “We host nationals this year and we have big goals as a team, but we know we have to continue to improve on a daily basis to achieve them.”

On the women’s side of the Blugold Invitational, the Titans finished 10th and achieved new personal records. McKenna said the women had an impressive performance and continue to improve every race.

“The women also had some great performances,” McKenna said. “Evlyn Noone led the way, and she continues to grow as a competitor. Each week she learns to be more confident and to compete with better focus. She ran a personal record and finished with a top-10 finish to win an award. Amanda Van Den Plas continues to grow with each race, and she ran her best race ever. Hannah Lohrenz has shown a lot more confidence in her sophomore season, and each week she is working on being more aggressive. Megan Berg, Allie Chen, Melissa Srnka and Sydney Fricke also had strong performances for the women.”

Noone finished eighth with a time of 22:17.5, only 11.5 seconds off the lead. Noone said not only improving during practice, but also improving mentally and physically and staying focused on recovery days has been important.

“The hard work we have been putting in during workouts and even taking those recovery days seriously is contributing to our ongoing success,” Noone said. “We do a lot of extra exercise outside of just running at practice, which helps us build strength. I think our mental toughness is improving as well as a team, which is helping during races as well.”

Van Den Plas, who finished with a time 23:29.8, said the team has been able to keep a good mindset through the early stages of the season.

“This year our team has been doing a great job of staying positive,” Van Den Plas said. “With all the ups and downs we have had in the past, we have learned and are trying to better ourselves every week.”
On the following day, Saturday, Sept. 29, eight of Oshkosh’s top runners traveled to the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minnesota for the Roy Griak Invitational. While there, the Titans won their fourth-consecutive Division III Roy Griak Invitational Championship with 34 points.

McKenna talked about the strength and challenge of the competition and how the underclassmen were able to secure the victory.

“Fortunately, our underclassmen continue to grow as a group in confidence and focus,” McKenna said. “Our top three are all sophomores. Lucas Weber and Michael Juarez ran very aggressive races, and they held on to finish strong. Cody Chadwick ran with patience and demonstrated a strong ability to close. Andrew Muskevitsch and Steven Potter, both freshmen, rounded out our scoring. Muskevitsch was very strong in the middle of the race, which helped our group move forward, and Steven displayed a phenomenal finishing kick to seal our team’s victory. We were happy to set a Griak record by winning our fourth consecutive title there.”

Bethel University finished second in the Invitational with 45 points. As the Titans look forward to this Saturday, Oct. 6 against Lawrence University, McKenna said he wants the team to better themselves
physically and mentally as the season enters its second month.

“Our mantras this season are ‘better every day’ and ‘run for each other,’” McKenna said. “We will continue to focus on these things. As a team, we want to be strong in the classroom, positive with each other and focused on our task each day, whether that be running mileage, being attentive to hydration and nutrition and being consistent with our additional exercises, lifting, etc.”

McKenna said the team has a big week of workouts ahead of them and will sit out some of their top runners at the Gene Davis Invitational hosted by Lawrence University in order to gear up for a strong showing at our home meet, the UW Oshkosh Kollege Town Sports Invitational, which is doubling as the Pre-National Meet.