The Maroons travel to Oshkosh, Wisconsin this weekend for the UW–Oshkosh Brooks Invitational. This will be the first time they return to action since late September when they placed an impressive fifth at the Loyola Lakefront Invitational.
In the Loyola Lakefront Invitational, the men’s team competed against numerous high-caliber opponents, including Division I teams Wisconsin and Purdue. The success of the men’s squad this season has led to it being ranked 19th in the nation and seventh in the Midwest region. In order to qualify for Nationals, however, the team needs to place fifth in the regional race on November 10.
Of the six squads ahead of the Maroons in the regional rankings, five will compete this Saturday in Wisconsin. The regional race will be run on the same course as the Invite, which helps explain why there will be such a heavy regional turnout.
“The Oshkosh meet presents an excellent opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with the ins-and-outs of the course and to learn the best racing strategy for it,” third–year Daniel Povitsky said.
This race will also allow for the South Siders to see where they truly stand in reference to their biggest competition.
“We have the opportunity to match up against some of the best NCAA-ranked teams, like #1 North Central College,” Povitsky said. “The majority of our top-7 men have run the NCAA regional meet and Oshkosh meet multiple times, so are well-equipped to handle the large meet with the added pressure of other great teams being present.”
Augustana College, currently ranked fifth in the region, faced Chicago earlier this year at the Illinois Intercollegiates where they beat the Maroons, who placed fourth, by a mere 11 points. For those unfamiliar with the point system in cross country, this means that Augustana’s five best runners finished a total of 11 individual spots ahead of the Maroons’ five best runners. Realistically, this difference is a matter of seconds. It therefore seems like the Maroons have not only the opportunity to see where they stand this weekend, but also the ability to shake up the rankings in the Midwest region.
An added bonus for the Maroons is that their rival, Wash U, currently ranked second in the region and third in the nation, will also be attending the invitational. This race will give the Maroons a chance to get a feel for the defending UAA champions and provide a great warm-up for the conference championship, which is only two weeks after the Invite.
“Should we achieve our goals and run well head-to-head against the top-10 ranked teams in the country,” Povitsky said, “we will certainly gain great confidence heading into UAAs and look to qualify [for] the National Championship.”
On an individual level, top performances can be expected from fourth-year Billy Whitmore and second-year Renat Zalov, as they finished 19th and 25th respectively two weeks ago against Division I runners. Maroons fans should also keep an eager eye out for fourth-year Isaac Dalke, who placed 34th in the same meet, and Povitsky, who was out last meet due to hip issues, but will be back on the course this weekend.
The race is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Lake Breeze Golf Course in Winneconne, Wisconsin.