Bonduel grad continues running career at UWSP

Wollenberg was two-time state qualifier

Greg Bates Leader Correspondent

Photo by Kylie Bridenhagen Bonduel High School graduate Travis Wollenberg continues his cross-country career at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He graduated from Bonduel in 2015 and was a two-time state cross-country qualifier for the Bears.

When Travis Wollenberg enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in fall 2015, he planned on just running on the track and field team.

Wollenberg became such good friends with his teammates who were not just running in track, but also in cross-country, that he thought he’d go out for cross-country the next year.

“He had a little bit of success during the track season, which helped,” UWSP cross-country head coach Brett Witt said.

Wollenberg is glad he added cross-country to his college resume.

“It was a good decision, I’ll say that for sure,” said Wollenberg, who’s a 2015 graduate of Bonduel High School. “My freshman year I was just kind of like, ‘I don’t know.’ I wasn’t the fastest in high school, but once I made the team I fit in with everyone else.”

As a freshman in 2016, Wollenberg ran in four races and clocked his best time (27:36.8) and finish (15th) at the Oshkosh Open.

He went into his sophomore season of cross-country with thoughts of building on the previous year. But Wollenberg suffered from patellar tendonitis in his left knee, an injury he’d never dealt with before.

“I think it was mainly due to just running too much high mileage right away and not slowly working into things,” said Wollenberg, a state qualifier in cross-country at Bonduel as a sophomore and junior.

The knee pain lingered early on in the season and Wollenberg was forced to sit out for two weeks from the end of September until early October.

“He was a little slow in getting started with his summer training and so then he was kind of playing catchup for the final part of the summer and even into the season still trying to play catchup,” Witt said. “When you’re in college and up against guys that are equal ability and willing to train hard too, if you miss two weeks, that’s a big setback.”

Wollenberg, 20, cross-trained and focused on other training activities to get ready for his return.

“As soon as I got back I started running good again,” Wollenberg said.

He raced in the Kollege Town Sports Invitational, finishing 272nd in 30:55.5, and the Oshkosh Open, placing 35th in 30:08.31. However, Wollenberg wasn’t able to crack UW-Stevens Point’s top 12 to qualify for the conference meet, so his season wrapped up.

Wollenberg will now concentrate on running on the track and field team in the spring for his third year. He’s primarily a middle-distance runner, competing in the 800 and 4x400 relay. Oddly enough, Wollenberg didn’t go out for track and field at Bonduel – instead, he played baseball.

Witt said if Wollenberg is going to be a successful cross-country athlete, which the coach knows he can be, he needs to be committed to running year-round.

If Wollenberg was in shape for the start of this season, his injury most likely wouldn’t have happened and he could have enjoyed a better year. Wollenberg knows he needs to log over 45 miles per week in the summer and 60 miles during the season; if that happens, Wollenberg can be the type of runner he is striving to be.

“I hope it teaches him that he’s got to be a little bit smarter,” Witt said. “He can’t delay his summer training, he’s got to get into it after his couple weeks off after track season. Then if you delay the training, you can’t jump into it too quickly.”

Wollenberg, who still has two years of NCAA eligibility left for cross-country, wants to drop his personal-best time to under 25 minutes. His PR happened last year when he ran a 27:38 – that’s quite a bit of time Wollenberg has to shave off. But he’s confident he can achieve his goal.

“I’ve got to work hard in the summer and come ready to go and make sure I’m not injured,” Wollenberg said.