UW-Oshkosh goes for its fourth top-two finish in five seasons when it battles five other nationally ranked teams at the WIAC Men's Indoor Track & Field Championship on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 28 - March 1) in Whitewater.
Competition in the 46th edition of the championship begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday in UW-Whitewater's Kachel Fieldhouse.
UW-Oshkosh enters the meet ranked third in the NCAA Division III by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. UW-La Crosse is the top-ranked team in the country, while UW-Eau Claire lists fourth, UW-Whitewater eighth, UW-Stout 11th and UW-Platteville 22nd.
Last season, UW-La Crosse tallied 171.5 points to capture its 12th straight WIAC indoor crown and 38th overall. The Titans followed in second place with 141 points, while UW-Eau Claire finished third with 109, UW-Whitewater fourth with 106 and UW-Platteville fifth with 68.5.
This year's championship features 16 student-athletes who have combined to win nine individual and 15 relay first-place medals.
UW-La Crosse's Sean Royer has claimed the 800-meter run in consecutive years and is aiming to become the first person in WIAC history to earn three straight titles in the event. The Eagles' Bryan Klister was victorious in the pole vault a season ago, while Jacob Peterson was a member of the winning distance medley relay squad in 2011 and 2013. He was joined on last year's team by Cyrus Mason.
UW-Eau Claire's Thurgood Dennis has claimed the Track Performer of the Meet award the past two seasons. He has won back-to-back titles in both the 60-meter dash and 200-meter dash. Dennis could become the conference's first three-time winner in the 60-meter dash since UW-Oshkosh's Jeff Forslund (1972-74).
Dennis also was a member of last year's victorious 800-meter relay team, along with Seth Friedrich and Cody Prince. In 2012, Dennis and Prince participated on the Blugolds' winning 1,600-meter relay foursome.
UW-Whitewater returns all four members from last year's victorious 1,600-meter relay team in Jared Denu, Kevin Gorman, Devin Grainger and Bryce Rudebeck. In 2012, Mike Judd earned the 60-meter hurdles title, while Dylan Crafton contributed to the Warhawks' triumphant 800-meter relay squad.
UW-Stout's Zach Anderson is the defending champion in the heptathlon, while UW-River Falls' Scott Jensen helped the Falcons' distance medley relay to victory in 2012.
The lone returning champion for UW-Oshkosh is Corey Wilch. He was a member of last year's first-place 1,600-meter relay team.
At last year's meet, UW-Oshkosh's John McCann earned second place with his high jump of 6-7 1/2.
Joe Brunner should also contend in the 35-pound weight throw, where he ranks seventh nationally at 60-7 1/4.
On the track, UW-Oshkosh will contend for titles with Naji Allan in the 60 and 200-meter dashes. Titans seeded high in the 400-meter run are Wilch, Brian Beaudo and Mike Servais. McKena Ramos holds the WIAC's best mile time at 4:08.44 this season.
UW-Oshkosh has won the indoor conference title five times, with the most recent being 2001.
By Jon Feyen