UW-Oshkosh begins its 2017 men's indoor track & field season by welcoming Lawrence University to Kolf Sports Center on Friday (Jan. 13).
The season opener against the Vikings is the first of three home meets for UW-Oshkosh, which seeks to improve upon its 13th-place finish at last year's NCAA Division III Championship.
The Titans, who enter the season ranked 12th in the NCAA Division III by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), also host the UW-Oshkosh Quadrangular on Feb. 11 and the UW-Oshkosh Titan Challenge on Feb. 18. UW-Oshkosh won each of its three home meets last season.
UW-Oshkosh's indoor schedule also includes trips to the North Central College Cardinal Opener in Naperville, Ill., on Jan. 20 as well as to the Squig Converse Invitational in Whitewater on Jan. 28 and the Pointer Invitational in Stevens Point on Feb. 4 before the WIAC Championship in Menomonie on Feb. 24-25.
The Titans then travel to Kenosha for the Carthage College Final Qualifier on March 3 and the UW-Stevens Point Open on March 4 in preparation for this year's NCAA Division III Championship that will be held March 10-11 in Naperville.
Last season, UW-Oshkosh finished sixth at the eight-team WIAC Championship with 76.5 points, just one-half point behind fifth-place UW-Platteville's total of 77 and four points behind third-place finishers UW-Eau Claire and UW-Whitewater with 80.5. Completing the WIAC Championship standings were champion UW-La Crosse with 166.5 points, second-place UW-Stevens Point with 98, seventh-place UW-Stout with 51 and eighth-place UW-River Falls with 33.
The Titans rebounded from their league performance with a 13th-place showing at last year's national meet in which WIAC programs swept the top three places. UW-Eau Claire claimed its second straight NCAA Division III indoor title while UW-Whitewater placed second, UW-La Crosse third, UW-Stevens Point 10th, UW-Platteville and UW-Stout 16th, and UW-River Falls 38th among 66 point-scoring teams.
UW-Oshkosh returns 31 letter winners for first-year interim head coach Mary Theisen.
Highlighting the returnees are junior Roberto Lara, the 2016 WIAC indoor champion and 2015 indoor All-American in the mile run, and sophomore Ryan Powers, who achieved All-America status in the 400-meter run during his inaugural indoor season.
Also back for the Titans are sophomore Justin Skinkis, junior Joe Zack and senior Danny Trimner. Skinkis and Zack joined Lara in helping UW-Oshkosh finish seventh in the distance medley relay at the 2015 NCAA Division III Indoor Championship while Trimner ran a leg on the Titans' 1,600-meter relay squad that placed second and established a school-record time at the 2015 national indoor meet.
Seventeen-time national champion UW-La Crosse tops the USTFCCCA's 2017 preseason poll. The Eagles are followed in the poll by second-ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology, third-ranked State University of New York at Cortland, fourth-ranked UW-Whitewater and fifth-ranked Benedictine University (Ill.).
WIAC programs also appearing in the USTFCCCA's preseason top 25 are sixth-ranked UW-Eau Claire, ninth-ranked UW-Stevens Point, 11th-ranked UW-Platteville and 22nd-ranked UW-Stout.
Three-time WIAC champion UW-Oshkosh won its lone national indoor title in 2009 and has finished among the top four teams in Division III 12 times since 1999, including runner-up trophies in 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2013.