The defending national champion UW-La Crosse men's track and field team is sending a gigantic group to the NCAA Div. III Outdoor Track and Field Championships this week, including West Salem grad Alex Koenen.

Koenen battled back from an injury he would like to forget. In his freshman season at UW-L, he was playing basketball outdoors during spring break. He landed on someone else's foot and broke his own. The worst part was having to call his coach.

"I called him and said you're going to be angry at me, and he said why? And I was like well, I'm probably not going to be running for a while because I broke my foot. He had some choice words for me but it was fine."

From a call he feared making, to the call of a lifetime: a trip to nationals. Koenen runs the No. 2 leg of the 4x100 relay, which is ranked third in the nation. As an individual, he's ranked No. 3 in the 100 meter dash.

"I came back and I've done better and better since then, so I haven't looked back," he said.

The NCAA Div. III Outdoor Track and Field Championships run Thursday through Saturday in Ohio.