After having their seasons cut short last season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh softball team and men’s and women’s track and field teams are making their 2021 seasons memorable.
The Titan softball team is playing for a national championship starting Thursday at the Softball World Series in Salem, Virginia, while the Titan men’s and women’s track and field teams look to win national championships at the NCAA Division III National Championships held in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Here’s a look at what’s in store for the big weekend ahead.
Titan softball seeking first national championship
UW Oshkosh is back in the NCAA DIII Softball World Series for the first time in more than three decades.
The Titans open the eight-team World Series at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 27 against DePauw University (Indiana) at Moyer Sports Complex in Salem. UWO (28-11) is seeded eighth while DePauw University (38-3) is the top seed and ranked first in the country by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
The DIII World Series is comprised of a pair of seeded, four-team double elimination brackets. The winners of both brackets will meet in a best-of-three series for the national title.
Rounding out UWO’s bracket of four teams are fourth-seeded and reigning national champion Texas Lutheran University and fifth-seeded Tufts University (Massachusetts). Texas Lutheran University (32-4), tied for second in the NFCA top 25 poll, plays three-time national champion Tufts University (21-5) at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The other World Series bracket features second-seeded Virginia Wesleyan University (41-5-1) battling seventh-seeded University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) (32-8) at 3 p.m. Thursday before third-seeded Birmingham-Southern College (Alabama) (31-6) and sixth-seeded University of Rochester (New York) (35-8) conclude the opening day at 5:30 p.m.
The DIII Championship continues through June 1.
UWO returns to the World Series for the second time and first since 1988. The Titans won the Eau Claire Regional in four straight games, defeating their opponents by a combined 20-3 score along the way, including a 6-1 decision over Piedmont College (Georgia) in the championship game. UWO, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) regular season co-champion, received an automatic bid into NCAA postseason by winning the WIAC tournament.
Come Thursday, games will be livestreamed here.
Track and field teams look to add to title tally
Members of the UWO men’s and women’s track and field team will participate in the NCAA DIII Outdoor Track and Field Championships Thursday-Saturday at Irwin Belk Track in Greensboro.
The Titan men’s track and field team, currently ranked second in the NCAA DIII National Rating Index, are looking for its first national title since 2009. UWO has 13 entries in the national meet, of which seven are ranked among the top five performers this season. Sophomore Jonathan Wilburn is the top-ranked athlete in the triple jump, while senior Jack Flynn sits No. 2 in the discus and the 4×100 relay—comprised of freshman Adrian Gilrone, junior Aaron Richardson, junior Robert Ogbuli and sophomore Jaylen Grant—also holds down the No. 2 spot.
Rounding out the Titan men competitors are sophomore Denzel Thomas and Grant in the 100-meter dash; sophomore Steven Potter in the 800-meter run; freshman John Ford in the 400-meter hurdles; junior Andrew George in the 3,000-meter steeplechase; freshman Josh River and sophomore Jamyle Brantley in the long jump; sophomore Jackson Sheckler and senior Nick Tegtmeier in the shot put; and the 4×400-meter relay team, consisting of freshman Bo Koehn, senior Todd Beadle, sophomore Amitai Wheat and Potter.
The Titan women’s track and field team, currently ranked 14th in the NCAA DIII National Ranking Index, are looking for its first national outdoor title since 2011. UWO has eight entries in national meet, including four ranked among the top-10 performers this season. Senior Sydney Thompson is the top-ranked athlete in the shot put and hold the No. 3 spot in the discus, while junior Alexandria Demco holds the No. 7 spot in 1,500-meter run and the No. 8 spot in the 800-meter run.
Rounding out the Titan women competitors are senior Morgan Florek in both the shot put and discus; Thompson in the hammer throw, and senior Carla Volz in the javelin.