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The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

UWL Men’s Cross Country ranked No. 1 in the nation

Image retrieved from UWL Athletics.

On top of winning its sixth consecutive Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championship title, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Men’s Cross Country team is ranked No. 1 in the nation. Winning this year’s title means that the UWL Men’s Cross Country team has now won 38 championships, the most out of any other school in the conference, according to UWL Athletics. 

Head coach of both UWL’s Men and Women’s Cross Country teams, Derek Stanley, has led the Eagles to seven WIAC championships in 12 years, as well as three, second-place finishes from 2014-2016. The team was led by captains Ethan Gregg and Isaac Wegner who at the end of the race, placed second (Gregg at 24:24.2) and fourth (Wegner at 24:43.6) respectively. 

The Racquet Press met with Gregg and Wegner to discuss the potential of Gregg becoming a professional runner after college, the 38th title, and Wegner’s academic award. 

When asked about his running future after college, Gregg said, “I intend on going pro [professional]. I’m not delusional in the sense that I think I’ll be able to gain a contract right out of college, but it’s definitely a promising conversation I’ve had with myself.” 

The Racquet Press also asked Gregg about how being a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III national champion solidifies his resume when he would be competing against long-time professionals and former NCAA Division I runners. Gregg said, “I am an athlete who can very much compartmentalize expectations and standards … I know those pressures aren’t going to stop me.”  

Gregg continued that he plans on fulfilling his dream of running at the Olympics, and firmly believes that it is a possibility.

The Racquet Press also spoke with Wegner, the recipient of the 2023 WIAC Max Sparger Award, an award that considers both athletic and academic achievement. The recipient of the WIAC Max Sparger Award must have a minimum 3.50 GPA and must be in their last year of competition eligibility or on track to graduate during the current academic year. 

Wegner is double majoring in history and anthropology and has maintained a 3.97 GPA throughout his UWL career. Wegner has been recognized for his academic success nationally, being named twice to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic team. About one year ago, Wegner earned a spot on the College Sports Communicators (CSC) Academic All-America® Men’s Track & Field/Cross Country team.

As captains, Gregg and Wegner are leaders for their fellow teammates. Wegner said, “Team culture is the most important thing for us [UWL Men’s Cross Country team].” He continued “It’s about showing people what it’s like to work hard … to push yourself every day to reach your goals, and modeling how to treat your teammates the right way.” 

Gregg said, “Having a set structure of having practices and lifts at set times allows for more structure. Every day is just practice, homework, dinner, etc. I think that being in a sport is almost better for the sake of routine.” He continued, “It’s easy to get wrapped up and just focusing on competition. When you’re able to take a step back and realize this is one of the best things you have going on in your life right now it makes a big difference.”

The UWL Men’s Cross Country team will travel to Whitetail Golf Course in Colfax, Wisconsin for the upcoming NCAA Division III North Regional on Saturday, Nov. 11.

Isaac Wegner holds the Max Sparger Scholar-Athlete Award. Image retrieved from UWL Athletics.
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About the Contributor
John Gaynor
John Gaynor, Sports Reporter
Year at UWL: Freshman
PGPs: He/Him
Hometown: Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Major: Marketing
Minor: N/A
Other Campus Involvement: Running Club, Track & Field Team
Future Plans after Graduation: Work in the aviation industry
Favorite Activity in La Crosse: Walking near the river
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