XC Faces Tough Competition

Both the men’s and women’s sides of the cross country squad head to the UW-Oshkosh AAE Invitational, where they face their steepest competition of the year.

By Natalie Demuro

The men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to Winneconne, Wisconsin, this Saturday for the last races before their trip to Atlanta for the UAA Championship in two weeks. The UW–Oshkosh Kollege Town Sports Invitational, the largest race of the year for the Maroons, will feature over 1,200 athletes from 45 teams and 10 states.  

Coming off strong starts to the season, the No. 20 women and No. 31 men hope to continue their success in the toughest field yet. After five meets and multiple first-place finishes on both sides, the squads are excited for the challenge that this competition will bring. Third-year Khia Kurtenbach, one of the Maroons’ top runners, said, “This meet will be an excellent opportunity for our team to challenge ourselves. We are looking forward to facing a really challenging field, and I think we’re ready to elevate and meet the challenge.” With months of training and strong performances behind them, the men and women are certainly well prepared for this weekend.  

The Invitational will be a chance for the South Siders to put their mental and physical training to the test in a more competitive atmosphere. Second-year Owen Melia, who contributed to the team’s sixth place finish at UW–Parkside Lucian Rosa Invitational last weekend, said of the upcoming race, “It will be the best competition we’ve faced yet, with multiple nationally ranked teams in both the men’s and women’s races. The women especially will get strong competition for the first time this year; they’re undefeated right now.”  

The team is looking forward to seeing this level of competition for the first time this season as the squads begin to set their sights on the final few races of the year. “We’re all really excited for Oshkosh because we see it as the beginning of our important, more competitive meets at the end of the year. This meet will help us figure out where we stack up in our region. We’ll see Wash U there, so we’ll get a preview of the UAA Championship,” Melia said.  

Wash U, which will compete against the Maroons this weekend as well as at the UAA Championship later this month, is currently ranked fifth in the nation on the women’s side and 15th on the men’s side. A number of other top-ranked teams will also be in attendance on Saturday. The Maroons are ready to face these higher-ranked teams and assess their relative talent. Both teams have the opportunity to compare their strength with some of the top runners in the nation and figure out what needs to be accomplished before heading into the postseason.  

The race this weekend will also give the teams a chance to test out the course for the NCAA Midwest Regional in November, as UW–Oshkosh will again serve as the host.   

The competition will take place three hours away at Lake Breeze Golf Club. The women’s 6-kilometer will begin at 10:30 a.m. and the men’s 8-kilometer is set to follow at 11:20 a.m.