PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – August marks the return of Pioneer athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, as student-athletes make their arrival to campus within the next few weeks. Like many others, members of the cross country team are preparing for their upcoming season.
Last year, the men finished third at conference and sixth at regionals, just narrowly missing a team trip to nationals. The women finished sixth in conference and 11th at regionals.
This year the Pioneers look to build on last year's success. With six of last season's top seven women returning, including juniors Katie Wardinski, Johanna Meister and Hannah Ihlenfeldt, the women's team is filled with experienced runners. In addition, the team is adding numerous talented freshmen.
"The women's team has a lot of good freshmen coming in," Thomas Antczak, Pioneer head coach, said. "I think it may be the best group of freshmen recruits within the last decade."
There are more than 20 men returning to the team, including junior Zach Lee and seniors Walker Rynes and Logan Steinhoff. Despite the impressive group of returners, the men are missing three of last season's top six finishers, including national champion, Ian LaMere. Although his absence will leave a mark on the Pioneers statistically, Antczak hopes that with LaMere's talent came a legacy that will impact returning runners now and in the future.
"Ian is the kind of runner you get once in a blue moon," Antczak said. "He has such unrelenting confidence, and our returning runners have witnessed that for years. He was very meticulous and did all of the little things that are necessary to be a great runner. Hopefully Ian left a lasting legacy and made a positive impact on the rest of the team."
Though Antczak believes his team has the talent to perform as well as last season, he doesn't put any permanent goals into place. Instead, he relies on his student-athletes to create their own goals and do what it takes to achieve them.
"I just want to achieve our potential and have fun," Antczak said. "My biggest job is to help my athletes see beyond their current horizons. If I can help them do that, then that's where we see the most success."
The Pioneers will report to practice on Aug. 27 and leave for their pre-season training camp at Ed Bryant Scout Reservation in Mauston, Wisconsin, the following day. Their full schedule can be found online at athletics.uwplatt.edu/sports/xc/2017-18/schedule.
Written by: Amanda Bertolozzi, Writer/Editor, Communications, 608-342-7121, firstname.lastname@example.org