Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Wheelchair basketball returns to the top

Nick Walczak
(left to right) Thomas Oberst, Talen Jourdan, and Benny Guerin getting ready for a rebound.

The UW-Whitewater men’s wheelchair basketball team has been a staple of excellence for years. They have compiled fourteen national titles with their most recent coming this year.

“When I started here, wheelchair basketball was kind of the ‘it’ program, when I started here in the fall of ‘99,” Athletic Director Ryan Callahan said. 

The Warhawks had a dominant showing during the national tournament going undefeated with three wins. The Warhawks played the host Southwest Minnesota State University in the first round. They would dominate, winning 81-59 and advancing to the second round.

“The biggest challenge that we faced was becoming more mentally tough,” head coach Jake Williams said. “We knew that we were going to be very good going into the year but we had some hurdles at the beginning of the year. We did a much better job at communicating and talking through things.”

This would translate in the end as in the second game the Warhawks faced the University of Alabama. They came away with the 74-58 win to move on to the finals where they would face the University of Arizona.

“It’s only my second year as a coach so I tried a lot of things throughout the year. I decided to take control by trying to be prepared the best I could for each game and show the team that I was ready by watching film and creating the game plan.”

For Williams this strategy would pay off as they would defeat the University of Arizona in a close game, winning 74-67 to claim their 14th national title and Williams first as a head coach. Williams, a graduate of UW-Whitewater, also won three national titles as a player. 

The Warhawks were led by Evan Oberst and Thomas Oberst, from Hartland, combined for 52 points in the championship game. Evan scored 23 points and added five rebounds and five assists, while Thomas finished with 29 points and team highs of 16 rebounds and nine assists. Thomas Oberst was named the MVP of the national championship game.

After winning the national title the work isn’t done for some of the Warhawk athletes and coaches as they set their sights towards making the olympic team. Williams, a two time gold medalist, will look to return and claim a spot for the 2024 Paris games along with fellow Warhawks AJ Fitzpatrick, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Talen Jourdan, Deerfield, and Warhawk alums John Boie and Jeromie Meyer. They also competed in last summer’s Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile, where Team USA won the gold.

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Dan Emary
Dan Emary, Men's Sports Editor

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