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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 Track and Field Dominate WIAC, Send 27 Athletes to NCAA Indoor Nationals

Hurdles at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships. Photo taken by John Gaynor.

The 2024 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III (DIII) Track & Field Indoor Nationals are being held in Virginia Beach on March 8-9. After winning the team title at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships, the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse Men’s Track and Field team had 27 athletes qualify for the National Indoor Meet. The program is looking to go back-to-back and bring home its second indoor national title in two years. 

To qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships, the official NCAA website states qualification is based on the descending-order list for the season and adhering to the qualifying regulations/criteria. For each men’s and women’s individual event contested, including the heptathlon and pentathlon, the top 20 declared student-athletes were accepted into the competition. For each relay event contested, the top 12 declared relay teams were accepted into the competition. 

Last year, the Eagles men’s and women’s teams swept the NCAA Indoor Championships, becoming the first program in NCAA DIII history to do so. For the Eagles, Sam Blaskowski and Ethan Gregg are looking to defend their titles in the 60-meter dash and 3000m run.  

Luke Schroeder celebrates a new PR of 7.80 after winning the 60m hurdles final at the Mark Guthrie Invite. Photo by John Gaynor.

Luke Schroeder is the top-seeded athlete and favorite to win a national title in the 60m hurdles and the 200m dash. Schroeder has not lost a race all season, he said, “I have a pretty large target on my back, with having a national lead in two events. But one thing I have practiced this year is staying confident but also calm under pressure.” He recently won the Kwik Trip Track Performer of the Meet at the WIAC Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships after his performances in the 200m and 60m hurdles and looks to continue his dominance in the NCAA Indoor Championship Meet. 

Blaskowski is the favorite to win the 60m, and a strong contender for the 200m. Blaskowski broke his own NCAA DIII National Record in the 60m in Feb., with a time of 6.64 seconds. He also holds some of the top times in Division III history for the Indoor 200m. Ryder Smith will also compete in the 60m alongside Blaskowski.

Sam Blaskowski in the 60m Final of the Mark Guthrie Invite. Photo by John Gaynor.

Smith set his fastest time of the season and a lifetime personal record (PR) when he ran a time of 06.78.00 at the Mark Guthrie Legacy Invite on Feb. 3. Also competing in the 200m dash are first-year athletes Ethan Turbeville and Collin Conzemius

Turbeville posted a lifetime PR in the Indoor Eagle Open of 21.59.00. At the same meet, Conzemius ran a PR time just one-hundredth of a second slower than Turbeville clocking in at 21.60.00.  

Schroeder also commented on competing for the 200m title, alongside Blaskowski and the pair of first year athletes. “Sam (Blaskowski) and I have talked all year about standing on the podium together. The fact that we will have 4 guys from UWL in the 200 is really exciting,Schroeder said.

The Eagles also boast a talented group of middle to long distance runners. Adam Loenser competed last year at NCAA Indoor Nationals alongside Gregg in the 3000m and will run again in the 3000m and 5000m. Also appearing in the 3000m and 5000m distances for the first time on a national stage, are twins Aidan Matthai and Grant Matthai.

Joey Sullivan paces the mile as Aidan Manning follows behind. Photo by John Gaynor.

Jayden Zywicki is fresh off breaking the UWL Indoor Facility Record and setting a new lifetime PR in the mile on Saturday, March 2 with a time of 4:08.62. Joey Sullivan and Aidan Manning are also making appearances in the mile, boasting times of 4:07.87 and 4:08.06, respectively. Michael Madoch also makes an appearance in the 5k and is running the anchor leg on the Distance Medley Relay (DMR). 

The DMR is a relay of four separate distances of 1200m, 400m, 800m and 1600m. It is not often that a DMR is run in collegiate track and field meets, but it has been run once this season by the Eagles. When it was run, the UWL DMR record that had stood for only one year had fallen by 3.65 seconds, with a winning time of 9:50.64. The squad that broke the school record was Parker Heintz, Addison Hill, Cael Schoemann and Madoch. The DMR will be run in the National Meet by Heintz, Jacob Hohman, Dirk Leuck and Madoch. 

UWL 4×400 baton exchange at the Mark Guthrie Invitational between Caden Pearce and Addison Hill. Photo by John Gaynor.

Alternate athletes are used throughout track and field for many reasons. The Eagles will utilize a few alternates to run the DMR in the NCAA Indoor National meet due to the meet’s busy schedule of events. Hill will miss the DMR due to the 4x400m relay, and Schoemann will miss running the 800m leg of the DMR due to competing in the open 800m. Hohman and Lueck will run in their places, as the DMR will be run just two hours after the conclusion of 800m prelims and directly after the 4x400m relay prelims to conclude day one.

Schoemann isn’t worried about missing his 800m leg of the DMR and the success of the team the Eagles have put together and instead is confident, “For those guys that are competing in the relay this weekend [Heintz, Hohman, Lueck and Madoch] I really think they can do some damage at an extremely high level. It’s definitely a much more experienced group than we ran at nationals last year, so we’re expecting some big things out of them and are really excited for what [time] they throw down,” said Schoemann. 

To round out the events on the track, the Eagles have one athlete competing in the open 400m dash and a 4x400m relay team. Davis Wenthe qualified for the NCAA Indoor Nationals during the Eagle Open in mid-February with a time of 48.78.00, earning himself a lifetime PR. The Eagles’ 4x400m squad will be run by Hill, Conzemius, Caden Pearce and Chase Doornink. The quartet of Eagles aims to break the UWL Indoor 4x400m record of 3:11.75, which was set back in 2003 by Derek Toshner, Kris Smith, Charlie Wittleder and Andrew Rock. 

Logan Larson on the runway attempting 5.00m (16’4 4/5″) at the Midwest Elite Invitational. Photo by John Gaynor.

For the field disciplines, the Eagles will be represented by seven athletes across six events. Fifth-year senior Logan Larson is one of two athletes representing the Eagles in the pole vault. Larson is the 2023 WIAC Indoor Pole Vault Champion and competed at NCAA Indoor Nationals in 2023 and vaulted a lifetime PR of 4.93m (16’2”) at the Midwest Elite Invitational in Feb. 

J.T. Zell also competed last year nationally, vaulting 4.60m at the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Nationals. He said, “This season has been nothing short of a huge struggle … but I am starting to consistently feel better, gain some more weight and feel mentally better about track and pole vaulting.. Zell vaulted a lifetime PR of 4.97m (16’3 ½”) in May of 2023 at the UWL Outdoor Final Qualifier meet, and qualified for the National meet with a mark of 4.87m (15’11 ¾”) during the WIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Nathan Andringa High Jumps over 2.06m at the Midwest Elite Invitational. Photo taken by John Gaynor.

Nathan Andringa is set to compete for UWL in the High Jump and heads into the competition tied for fifth place with four other athletes. Andringa is the only athlete on the Men’s team who competes exclusively in High Jump and has qualified for the NCAA National Indoor Meet after soaring over a lifetime PR of 2.07m (6’9 ½”).

Andrew Hermes will be representing the Eagles in the long jump, where he is ranked number 12 in the nation. Hermes recently solidified himself as one of the nation’s top DIII long jumpers, placing first in the Eagle Indoor Final Qualifier meet on March 2 he jumped a new lifetime PR of 7.22m (23’8 ¼”).

William Cady will compete in the triple jump, where he is ranked eighth in the Division III standings. His furthest mark of the indoor season came during the WIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships, where he jumped 14.61m (47’11 ¼”).

Ben Youngsworth in the shotput. Photo taken by John Gaynor.

In the shot put, UWL will be represented by Ben Youngworth. After throwing two lifetime PRs earlier in the season, Youngworth threw another season-best and lifetime PR at the WIAC Track and Field Indoor Championships, where he threw the 16-pound shotput 16.74m (54’11 ¼”).

Aiden Williams is the other thrower representing the Eagles who will compete at NCAA Indoor Nationals. Williams will compete in the weight throw after he threw a lifetime PR of 19.00m (62’4”) during the Indoor Eagle Open on Feb. 16. 

The NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championship Meet will begin on Friday, March 8 at 10 a.m., beginning with the Men’s Heptathlon and Women’s Pentathlon. The meet will conclude on Saturday, March 9 at 6:40 p.m. with the Men’s 4x400m relay. For the full list of qualifiers and live timing, visit The full schedule of events for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championship Meet can be found on the official NCAA website. A live stream will be able to be found on the NCAA website once the meet is officially underway. 

UWL Track and Field Head Coach Joshua Buchholz. Photo by John Gaynor.
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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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