Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Cross country falls short of WIAC Championship

Reese Kupsky
Christain Patzka begins to pull away from the competition en route to winning individual WIAC title.

With the weather and leaves starting to change, cross country geared up for the WIAC championship meet, hosted by UW-River Falls. This would be a clash of the No. 4 ranked UW-Whitewater Warhawks led by Christain Patzka and No. 2 ranked UW-La Crosse led by Ethan Gregg. The Warhawks fell short in this clash of Division III titans as La Crosse brought home the conference championship.

The Warhawks would be led by Christain Patzka becoming the individual conference champion. He was followed by fellow Warhawks Gunner Schlender in 5th, Dan Anderson in 9th, Craig Hundley in 12th, and Chris Allen in 15th to round out the Warhawks top five runners. La Crosse won the men’s team title with 22 points followed by UWW (41), UW-Stout (117), UW-Platteville (123), UW-Oshkosh (142), UW-Eau Claire (143), UW-Stevens Point (147) and River Falls (260)

Through the first three kilometers of the race, the Warhawks looked strong, being first overall in team standings with Schlender in second and Patzka in third.

“The main plan was sitting with Gregg and Gunner,” Patzka said. “I knew that me and Gregg wanted to win and with minimal effort, Coach Mills and I strategized the race that way to sit and wait and not take the lead until about 800 meters left in the race.”

Through 5k Patzka would lead even with Ethan Gregg of La Crosse. Schlender and other Warhawk runners began to slip back as La Crosse began to gain momentum. With Patzka’s win, he will join a short list of elite Warhawk men’s cross-country runners. He is the sixth Warhawk to become a WIAC individual champion joining a list of notable alumni David Fassbender winning in 2021, Gary Garcia in 2004, Tom Hoffman in 1968, 1967, 1966,  Bud Duex in 1965, and Phil Nordfren in 1964 in the program record books. With David Fassbender and Gary Garcia with both being coached by current head coach Jeff Miller during their college careers at Whitewater.

“It means a lot looking at its history and it is nice to see the individual conference champion is starting to stay in the Whitewater family and it’s cool to be on a short list of Whitewater history,”Patzka said.

Patzka wasn’t the only member to be added to the history books. Senior runner Justin Krause became the first UWW runner since Tom Hoffman in the late 1960s to earn All-WIAC honors four times. 

The Warhawks were determined to not go quietly as they began to gain places in the last 1.5 kilometers.

“A meet-like conference is built for a team like La Crosse with them having more runners while we are better suited for a national and regional meet with our seven best runners showing up on the day,” Patzka said of his team’s mindset going into NCAA competitions.

Both teams will meet again at the NCAA North regional hosted by UW-EauClaire in Colfax, WI. The Warhawks will look to bounce back like last year, win their regional, and move on to the NCAA Division III national championship on November 18th in ​​Carlisle, Pennsylvania hosted by Dickinson College.

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About the Contributor
Dan Emary, Assistant Men's Sports Editor

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