This weekend, Whitewater, WI, is the place to be to see DIII’s best female throwers in action.
Besides Chicago’s throwing trio of fourth-year students Claire Ray and Nicole Murphy and third-year Kristin Constantine, tomorrow’s Warhawk Classic at UW–Whitewater will include an outstanding contingent of UW–Oshkosh throwers, making for one of the deepest weight throw and shot put fields this side of indoor nationals.
“This is no doubt the strongest competition that we’ll see in the throws until Nationals in March,” Constantine said. “But we’ve been training harder than ever for the past eight months, and we’re physically prepared for any level of competition.”
Oshkosh’s top throwers include Holly Ozanich, the only woman in DIII this season to have posted a weight throw mark (18.05 m) better than those put up by Ray (17.9 m) and Constantine (17.34 m) at last weekend’s Chicago Duals. Ozanich, Ray, and Constantine are thus far the only automatic qualifiers in that event.
Besides Ozanich, the Titans have three other women who have hit at least the provisional mark in the weight throw. One of those three, Ellie Sitek, currently sits third on the NCAA’s national performance list for the shot put. Another Titan, Jecel Gerner, is currently fifth on that list. Between Sitek and Gerner is Murphy, in fourth, while Ray is sixth in the shot put going into this weekend.
Being between a pair of Oshkosh throwers isn’t new for Murphy: At Nationals last March, she finished seventh overall in shot put, right behind Sitek and one spot ahead of Susie Trzebiatoswki, who’s also a Titan. (Trzebiatowski has yet to qualify in the shot put this season but is eighth on the weight throw list.)
“Having good competition at these mid-season meets is a great opportunity because it really challenges me,” Murphy said. “Usually, the competition we see in the throws isn’t that great so I have to challenge and motivate myself.”
This won’t be the first time the Maroons have seen Oshkosh this season. On January 9, they traveled to Oshkosh for dual meets with Augustana and Oshkosh. That day, Sitek won the shot put, Ozanich won the weight throw, and Ray finished second in both. Murphy was third in the shot put. Overall, the Titans beat Chicago 82–60.
But, as Murphy pointed out, the importance of this meet won’t show on the score sheet.
“Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if I win or lose at this point, but it’s great practice at just competing well and bringing it when it really matters,” Murphy said. “And if I do well now, that’ll give me confidence to believe I can do well again at the bigger meets.”
Men’s track and field is also making the trip to Whitewater this weekend, but their meet will be this afternoon and evening, a day before the women get underway. As on the women’s half, Oshkosh will be the favorite to take top honors.
The Titans beat Chicago 109–48 in their January 9 dual meet, and if the current national performance lists hold at NCAAs, Oshkosh would win the team championship by more than 10 points. But even if the Titans take another convincing victory in today’s invitational, as with the Chicago women, the meet will provide the men with another opportunity to hone their performances under pressure and against some of the country’s best track and field athletes.