UWL Men’s Track and Field wins 18th consecutive WIAC Indoor Championship

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UWL Men’s Track and Field wins 18th consecutive WIAC Indoor Championship

Picture Credit: UWL Athletics

Picture Credit: UWL Athletics

Picture Credit: UWL Athletics

Picture Credit: UWL Athletics

Trevor Kliebenstein, Sports Reporter

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The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse men’s indoor track and field team captured another Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Title Feb. 23 in Whitewater, Wisconsin. Several Eagle’s found success during the two-day championship series.  

On Feb. 22, the first day of action, Jacob Teunas won the long jump (23-6 ¼) while Thomas Schultz took the 5,000-meter run title with a time of 14:40.22. On the last and final day of action, Seth Holden won the 60-meter dash (6.83) and Joshua Schraeder the 3,000-meter run (8:20). Andrew Jarrett continued his remarkable season by winning his second straight weight throw title (21.22).  

Josh Buchholtz, head coach for the Eagle’s track and field team, said that Jarrett is truly a “Champion in sport.” Just a few weeks ago, Jarrett said he would like to break the UWL record for weight throw (21.04) as well as break the NCAA record (21.75).  

With a throw of 21.22 meters on Saturday, Jarrett accomplished his goal of breaking the UWL record. He also leads the nation in weight throw this year, has the conference record, and is number two all-time in NCAA Division III. 

Buchholtz also said, “He’s a good student here on campus, he’s a good role model, he works in residence life as a resident assistant. He’s the epitome of what we like to have within our program.” 

Jarrett helped the Eagles track and field team continue its rich tradition of consecutive indoor conference championships, which now stands at 18. 

Freshman Ben Jones, who finished fifth in the heptathlon on Saturday, realized how great of a program UWL has had. Jones said, “Being part of a team that has won 18 straight conference championships is unbelievable. I am so proud to be part of that legacy.” 

Jones competes in one of the most difficult events in track and field, where he’s responsible for seven different events: 60-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60-meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000-meter run.  

“As a multi, I have a lot more to practice than someone in a single event … we often start practice as early as 2:30 or 3:00, and don’t leave until about 6:00 or 7:00,” stated Jones.  

Jones contributed his success to the team atmosphere and coaching staff at UWL. “They really make sure that we are in the condition to perform at our very best,” Jones said. He also added that his individual goal is to place inside the top twelve at nationals for the heptathlon.  

Jones’ teammate, sophomore Josh Koenecke, has also found success this season sprinting for the Eagles. On Saturday, he finished second in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.84 seconds. 

He said, “Placing individually is obviously something that everyone strives for, and it proves that the work that we have been putting in for so long has paid off. More than that though, winning as a team is something that really proves that we can do it together, and that everyone’s work has paid off at just the right time, which is always great to see.” 

Koenecke, who also qualified for nationals in the 200-meter dash this season, said he loves the fact that he gets to practice and compete with such high talent every single day. “Being a part of such a strong tradition means that the people you get to practice and compete with are the best of the best, and it feels great to push each other to new bests throughout the year,” said Koenecke. 

His personal goal is to win both the 60-meter and 200-meter dash in the NCAA Championships in Boston, Massachusetts. Jones, Koenecke and Buchholtz all have goals of winning a team NCAA Championship for the Eagles. The Eagles have 15 all-time NCAA Indoor Championships. 

Having as much success as the UWL men’s track and field team has had for such a long period of time is unheard of in college sports. Not many teams can perform at such a high-level year after year.  

Buchholtz went as far to say that by now, it’s almost an expectation to win conference every year. 

“The biggest thing that I have to always recognize is the fact that there were a lot of people before me,” said Buchholz.  Buchholz was a member of the UWL track and field team when he attended UWL from 1996-2000. Mark Guthrie was his head coach at the time. Less than two years after Guthrie retired from being the UWL head coach in 2006, Buchholz stepped into the position for the job.  

Buchholtz credited Guthrie to ‘setting the table’ for him by winning 34 conference titles, 12 indoor national championships and 10 outdoor national championships during his 19 years at the helm. Because of these accolades, Guthrie is considered the most successful track coach in NCAA Division III history. Guthrie also coached UWL’s first Olympic gold medalist, Andrew Rock, who won gold in the 4×400 relay in 2004. 

“Knowing that the table was set for me when I came back here, and having maroon in my blood, it was a pretty natural step to get back to my alma mater and want to coach,” said Buchholtz. After 12 consecutive years of dominant performances in the WIAC championships under Buchholz, as well as four indoor national championships, it really does show that Guthrie to Buchholtz was simply a ‘passing of the torch.’ 

As of Feb. 28, the Eagles have 18 individuals qualified for the national meet, seven others in contention to qualify and two alternates.  

The Eagle’s next compete at qualifiers March 1 and 2 at The University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Wartburg College (Iowa), where they hope to qualify all seven competitors in contention to qualify. The NCAA Championships will occur March 8 and 9 in Boston, Massachusetts. 

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