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Titans Aim For Another Top WIAC Indoor Championship Finish

Titans Aim For Another Top WIAC Indoor Championship Finish

UW-Oshkosh seeks another top-four finish when it competes at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Men's Indoor Track & Field Championship (presented by Culver's) this weekend in Menomonie.

Competition in the two-day event begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday (Feb. 24) and 9 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 25) in UW-Stout's Sports and Fitness Center. The 49th edition of the men's championship will be held in unison with the 41st gathering of the women's teams.

UW-Oshkosh has recorded 29 top-four finishes during the past 30 WIAC indoor championships. The Titans captured league titles in 1971, 1973, 1989, 1999 and 2001 in addition to 10 second-place listings since 1984.

UW-La Crosse enters this year's meet as the 15-time defending champion. The Eagles scored 166.5 points a year ago to secure their 41st conference indoor title in school history.

UW-Stevens Point finished second at last year's eight-team championship with 98 points while UW-Eau Claire and UW-Whitewater tied for third with 80.5. UW-Platteville took fifth place with 77 points, UW-Oshkosh sixth with 76.5, UW-Stout seventh with 51 and UW-River Falls eighth with 33.

This year's championship features 13 student-athletes who have combined to win 12 individual and seven relay titles at previous WIAC indoor meets.

The meet also showcases seven nationally ranked programs by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. UW-La Crosse currently ranks second in the nation while UW-Whitewater lists fifth, UW-Platteville seventh, UW-Stevens Point eighth, UW-Oshkosh ninth, two-time defending national champion UW-Eau Claire 18th and UW-River Falls 20th.

Headlining UW-Oshkosh's entrants is junior Roberto Lara, who won the mile run at the 2015 WIAC Championship and owns the third-fastest mile time in the nation this year at 4:09.43.

The Titans are also represented among the country's top 20 marks in several other events.

UW-Oshkosh has produced four of the top 19 times in the 800-meter run as sophomore Justin Skinkis ranks eighth in the country with a time of 1:53.96, junior Joe Zack 16th at 1:54.50, Lara 17th at 1:54.68 and junior Nick Freitag 19th at 1:54.82.

Titan Devan Gertschen, a junior, ranks eighth nationally in the pole vault with a height of 16-0 3/4 while sophomore Ryan Powers is 13th in the 400-meter run with a time of 49.36 and sophomore Christian Lopez 17th in the 60- and 18th in the 200-meter dashes with times of 6.92 and 22.33 seconds, respectively.

UW-Oshkosh also ranks high among the national leaders in both relay events.

The Titan quartet of Powers, senior Danny Trimner, junior Garrison Griest and sophomore Morgan Malm ranks second in the 1,600-meter relay with a time of 3:18.20 while UW-Oshkosh's distance medley relay team of Freitag, Lara, Skinkis and Trimner lists seventh at 10:06.63.

UW-La Crosse senior Ross Denman is the most decorated returnee to the WIAC indoor championship. He has won three straight 400-meter dash titles and is one of just two individuals in league history to accomplish the feat.

Denman was a member of the first-place 1,600-meter relay team a season ago and added a 200-meter dash crown at the 2015 championship, when he was selected the Track Performer of the Meet. He was joined on last year's 1,600-meter relay foursome by sophomore Dominic Bocchini.

UW-River Falls senior David Paynotta is the two-time defending champion in the 60-meter dash and received Track Performer of the Meet recognition a year ago.

UW-Stevens Point senior Jerry Williams was victorious in the long and triple jumps a season ago while senior Neil Pedersen posted a first-place finish in the mile run. At the 2015 championship, senior Dane Tyler and junior Michael Evans contributed to the Pointers' victorious distance medley relay team.

UW-Eau Claire seniors Ryan Graham and Nick Petersson were members of last year's triumphant distance medley relay team while classmate Jimmy Paske helped the Blugolds' 1,600-meter relay squad to victory in 2014.

UW-Platteville senior Matt Dwyer and UW-Whitewater junior Parker Witt are the defending champions in the pole vault and 200-meter dash, respectively.

UW-La Crosse has won 41 of the 48 previous WIAC indoor titles. UW-Oshkosh is second with five WIAC crowns while UW-Stevens Point secured the remaining two league championships in 1974 and 1978.

2017 WIAC Men's Indoor Track & Field Championship Website