UW-Oshkosh will compete against seven nationally ranked men's cross country teams at the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional on Saturday (Nov. 11) in Rock Island, Ill.
The 8,000-meter race, which involves nearly 300 runners from schools located in the states of Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin, begins at 11 a.m. at the Saukie Golf Course.
The top two teams will secure an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Championship that will be held Nov. 18 at the North Farm Facility in Elsah, Ill.
Sixteen other at-large bids will be awarded from the nation's eight total regions. The top seven individual finishers from each region not on one of the team qualifiers will also earn an invitation to the national championship.
UW-Oshkosh, which has finished among the top 11 teams at each of the past 33 regionals, placed seventh with 215 points at last season's meet held at the Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne.
This year's Midwest Regional features the top two teams in the country as defending national champion North Central College (Ill.) enters Saturday's meet ranked first and UW-La Crosse second by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCA).
North Central College won last year's Midwest Regional with 37 points before going on to win its division-record 17th national championship by scoring 60 points.
Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) heads into the meet ranked ninth by the USTFCCA while UW-Stout lists 17th, UW-Eau Claire 20th, University of Chicago (Ill.) 32nd and UW-Platteville 34th.
UW-Eau Claire finished second at the Midwest Regional with 91 points a year ago. The Blugolds were followed in the standings by third-place UW-La Crosse with 104 points, fourth-place Washington University with 138 and fifth-place UW-Stevens Point with 200.
There will be a new Midwest Regional and national champion this season as UW-Platteville's Ian LaMere won both races twice, including as a senior a year ago. LaMere claimed last year's Midwest Regional title with a time of 24:02 before winning the national individual crown with a time of 23:41.
Three of the top five finishers from last year's Midwest Regional return, including UW-Eau Claire's Darin Lau, who placed third with a time of 24:32. UW-La Crosse's Thomas Schultz finished fourth a year ago with a time of 24:41 while North Central College's Dhruvil Patel placed fifth in 24:50.
UW-Oshkosh's lineup this weekend is expected to include Noah Bruehl, Cody Chadwick, Bennett Krueger, Michael Juarez, Dan Massey, Lucas Weber and Skyler Yunk. Massey finished 133rd at last year's Midwest Regional.
Juarez paced the Titans with a 19th-place showing at the WIAC Championship held Oct. 28 in Whitewater while Chadwick finished 26th, Bruehl finished 26th, Weber 37th and Massey 49th.
UW-Oshkosh has claimed four Midwest Regional crowns, including consecutive titles in 2002-03.