After a successful indoor season, the men and women’s track and field team wants to channel that success and continue to see it in the outdoor season.
Five individuals and one relay team competed at the 2015 Indoor Track and Field National Championships from March 13-14 in North Carolina.
The Pointers came home with six All-Americans.
On the women’s side, junior Shannon Burke placed sixth in pole vault and became UWSP’s first ever All-American in this event. Junior Kadie Flynn and senior Ana Breit also competed in the weight throw and the mile run respectively.
On the men’s side, sophomore Jerry Williams placed third in triple jump and claimed his second All-American title in the event. Williams’success follows his sixth place finish last outdoor season. Junior Dennis Haak also competed individually in the mile run.
Sophomores Matt Sosinsky, Michael Evans, and Calvin VanRyzin, ran the distance Medley relay, along with junior Ryan Wierzba. The team claimed another All-American title when they placed sixth.
“We’re happy with our finish, but unsatisfied because we came in ranked fifth,” Sosinsky said. “Considering how many teams are in the nation, we did well.”
Burke went into her event ranked tenth and set her goal on eighth. She vaulted 12’ 1 ½” to earn sixth place finish after almost missing a height completely.
“It was my twenty-first birthday the Friday I competed, and after there was a huge group of people singing happy birthday to me. I was standing there holding the trophy thinking ‘this is real’ and that’s when it hit me,” Burke said about becoming an All-American.
At the conference level,the Pointer men took sixth and the women took fifth. Associate Head Coach Brett Witt did not see this as a good showing of the team.
“I’m not satisfied with the conference meet, but the experience should bode well for freshmen and sophomores. Now they know what to expect,” Witt said.
Witt also said he is excited for the outdoor season to begin.
“The events that are added are good events for us,” Witt said. “We are also getting some athletes back who have a significant presence. Former All-American Maggie Martin and five time national champion Dan Sullivan will give us a huge boost.”
Burke said the few changes with the new staff members this year are for the better.
“We’re all acclimating to Brett and the others and it’s a bit of a transitional season, but it’s good for us,” Burke said.
Sosinsky said team chemistry is better than last year due to both the men’s and women’s teams acting as one.
“We’re a young team on the rise,and we’re always supporting each other and working to get to know everyone, which is impressive with how big our team is,” Sosinksy said.
In the outdoor season, Witt wants to have even higher representation at the conference and national levels and meet team goals.
“Our goal was for the women to take fourth and the men to take fifth,” Witt said. “If we can get that, and finish higher at the national championships, we’d hit our goals.”
In order to accomplish these goals there are a number of difficult teams the Pointers must face. UW-La Crosse, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Oshkosh, and UW-Whitewater all consistently rank near the top at national level.
“To be the best we’re literally going to have to beat the best,” Witt said.
At the outdoor national track and field championships a larger number of athletes are able to compete, which might open some doors for Pointer athletes. Along with a shorter season, the outdoor season also has the possible obstacle of bad weather, but it takes a lot to halt competition.
“We only stop for a snow covered track or lightning,” Witt said. “Otherwise I just tell them to wear extra warm-up clothes and shed them when they race, jump, or throw.”