Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Men’s track takes on Midwest Elite

UW-Whitewater+men%E2%80%99s+track+and+field+distance+runner+gets+lined+up+to+compete+in+the+5%2C000+meter+run+in+the+UW-Whitewater+Kachel+Fieldhouse+at+the+Midwest+Elite+meet+Feb.+10+2024.
Katie McIlheran
UW-Whitewater men’s track and field distance runner gets lined up to compete in the 5,000 meter run in the UW-Whitewater Kachel Fieldhouse at the Midwest Elite meet Feb. 10 2024.

The No. 12 UW-Whitewater Men’s Track and Field team competed in the Midwest Elite Invitational Feb. 10, where they placed fourth among eight participating teams by scoring 64 points. Only No. 1 UW-La Crosse (170), No. 2 UW-Oshkosh (87), and No. 16 Loras College (82) scored more points than the Warhawks.

The invitational is one of the toughest Division III meets in the entire country, and the team still pushed themselves into the top half of the standings. 

“[Midwest Elite] is probably the third best meet in the country,” head coach Mike Johnson said. “It’s a great proving ground for our kids to go up against these top-tier teams in our league as well as outside.”

Despite top distance runners Christian Patzka, Gunner Schlender and Justin Krause competing in the tough David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston, the track athletes in Whitewater contributed points in nearly every running event. One runner that impressed was freshman Ben Bojar, who cracked the university’s all-time top-10 in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.51 seconds.

“I want to thank god for giving me the ability to have a chance to break the top 10 for the 200-meter as a freshman,” Bojar said. “I can’t wait to one day have the number one spot.”

Earlier this season, two other Warhawks found their way into the same top-10, as both sophomore Kobe Chandler and freshman Myles Anderson ran a 22.54-second 200-meter dash, proving the short-sprinter depth that the team has.

On top of Bojar’s performance, the Warhawks grabbed some points in every running event except for the 800-meter dash. Some of these results include junior Tamir Thomas falling one-hundredth of a second short of his 60-meter hurdles personal record, sophomore Brandon Gang winning the 3,000-meter dash with an 8:53.95, and junior Craig Hundley II finishing seventh in the mile run with a 4:15.36, two-tenths of a second shy of entering the university’s all-time top-10 list. Overall, the running events contributed to 41 of the team’s 64 points.

“Some of our squad isn’t here, but our sprinters had impressive days, the 60, the 200, the 400, all of those groups did really well,” Johnson said.

While the field athletes did not supply as many points as the track athletes, the Warhawks still had several great performances in a tough competition. Three athletes contributed to the point total, headlined by junior Shelvin Garrett II, who won the triple jump event by posting a jump of 15.31 meters.

“[Garrett’s] work ethic is incredible,” Johnson said. “He’s not the guy who just comes in and does the bare minimum in practice, but he’s also not so foolish where he’s just trying to destroy his body. He’s been a blessing.”

Along with Garrett, freshman Ben Bunton, junior Spencer Steffen and junior Sean Larsen contributed to the point total with their finishes. Bunton and Steffen finished fifth and seventh in the high jump at 1.93 and 1.88 meters respectively, and Larsen finished seventh in the weight throw at 16.72 meters.

The Warhawks have one more indoor track meet before the WIAC Indoor Championships, as they compete in the Eagle Invitational at UW-La Crosse Feb. 16. 

“It’s about being at your best at the right time, and we’ve always had a good reputation for doing that,” Johnson said. “So the fact that we are heading into the homestretch, we’re being more than pleasantly surprised by some of those results.”

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About the Contributors
Chase Keller, Men's Sports Journalist
Katie McIlheran, Lead Photographer

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