“If everything goes well, we are winning nationals”: UWL track and field teams to compete at nationals


Image retrieved from www.ncaa.org.

Gianna Fussell, Sports Reporter

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse men’s and women’s track and field team is set to compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Indoor Championships starting later this week. The competition will take place on March 10 and 11 in Birmingham, Alabama.

On Feb. 24 and 25 at UW-Stout, the UWL men’s and women’s track and field teams both won the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) conference championship titles. For the men’s team, this was their 20th conference championship title in 21 seasons. The women’s team won their third straight conference championship title. This was the women’s ninth conference championship title in the last 10 years. Furthermore, the women’s team scored 324.0 points, which broke the previous 1996 record held by UW-Oshkosh.

Sam Blaskowski. Image retrieved from the @uwlmenstf Instagram page.

UWL sophomore Sam Blaskowski won both the 60-meter and the 200-meter dash, which was last accomplished by Parker Witt in 2017. In addition, Blaskowski also broke the 200-meter dash record that was previously recorded in 2003 and defended his previous title.

“I was like ‘I’m going to feel heavy, I’m just going to try to win my events.’ Then I ended up improving my marks, so I was pretty happy about that,” said Blaskowski, “The 200 blew my mind because we ran on a terrible track.”

The track at UW-Stout is a flat track, compared to the bank track at Nationals, which, regarding the bank track, Blaskowski said, “It’s easier to keep your top speed, so your mark is faster.” At UW-Stout, Blaskowksi ran a 21.29, which converts to 20.92 with a bank track, but conversions do not count at nationals. The national record is 21.13

UWL sophomore Luke Schroeder won the 60-meter hurdles, and the 4×400-meter relay team of Tyler Backes, Caden Pearce, Dirk Lueck, and Luke Vance won the championship title.

UWL senior Emma Lawrence won the 60-meter hurdles and the 200-meter dash. Lawrence was second in the 60-meter dash. Lawrence’s titles in the 60-meter hurdles and the 200-meter dash set a WIAC record. She was the first athlete to win both titles at the same championship meet.

Emma Lawrence. Image retrieved from the @uwlwomenstf Instagram page.

In addition to Lawrence’s titles, UWL junior Maddie Hannan won the 800-meter run. UWL had not won a championship title in the 800-meter run since 1997. Sophomore Skylar White won the pentathlon, senior Skye Digman won the weight throw, defending her two previous titles, and freshman Hailie Kent won the triple jump.

On March 4, the UWL men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at the Wartburg College, Iowa qualifier meet. The men’s team also competed at the Ripon College final qualifier meet. The qualifier meet is for athletes who are on the cusp of being in the top 20 or want to secure their spot.

For the men’s team, UWL senior Spencer Reichart won the 60-meter dash, and sophomore JT Zell won the pole vault.

For the women’s team, Lawrence broke her record in the 60-meter hurdles. She previously held the record with an 8.50 but recorded 8.40 on Saturday. Digman won the weight throw and shot put. The women’s 4×400-meter relay of Mara Schroeder, Melanie Kruze, Emily Dawidovich, and Emma Lawrence won the title.

In total, 38 members, 20 women, and 18 men, from the UWL men’s and women’s track and field teams have qualified to go to the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships. In order to qualify, athletes must be in the top 20 for the individual events, and the top 12 relays attend, with only one team per university allowed into the competition.

UWL men’s national qualifiers. Image retrieved from the UWL men’s track and field Facebook page.

Blaskowski qualified in the 60-meter and 200-meter dash, along with the long jump. “I’m really feeling confident going to the national meet, with how the weekend went,” Blaskowski said, “My goal is to win the 200, the 60, and then I want to win the long jump.” Blaskowski is ranked first for both the 60-meter and 200-meter dash at nationals. “If everything goes well, we are winning nationals,” said Blaskowski.

Lawrence qualified in the 200-meter dash, 60-meter hurdles, and the 4×400-meter relay. Lawrence is ranked fourth in the 200-meter dash and second in the 60-meter hurdles at nationals.

“Hurdles are my main thing. I qualified in the past, so it was definitely a goal to get there again for that,” Lawrence said, “But this year, I didn’t play volleyball, I’ve played volleyball in the past. Now, I’ve been able to train with the track team, so I’ve been able to focus on my sprinting mechanics. It’s been really cool because now I qualified in the 60 and the 200 and never have ran the 60 before.”

UWL women’s national qualifiers. Image retrieved from @uwlwomenstf Instagram page.

The link to the UWL men’s track and field team can be found here. The link to the UWL women’s track and field team can be found here. The entries for the 2023 NCAA Division III Indoor Championships can be found here, along with both the men’s and women’s NCAA Division III Indoor Championship sites.