University News

Men’s wheelchair basketball wins national championship

March 18, 2024

Written by Chris Lindeke | Photos courtesy of Southwest Minnesota State University

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater men’s wheelchair basketball team earned its 14th national title in program history by winning the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Men’s College Championship on March 14-16, 2024, at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota.

The Warhawks punctuated a perfect 3-0 record through the tournament with a 74-67 victory against top-seeded Arizona in the final game to pick up the program’s first national championship since 2016.

“We have all worked so hard over the past two years for this moment – the staff and the players,” coach Jake Williams said. “When you reach your goal and actually achieve it, that feels like the most satisfying part.

“We knew the whole Warhawk family was behind us – some of them were actually waiting for us at our practice facility when we got back. It was amazing to have that welcome home.”

Evan Oberst and Thomas Oberst, general business majors from Hartland, combined for 52 points in the championship game. Evan scored 23 points and added five rebounds and five assists, while Thomas finished with 29 points and team highs of 16 rebounds and nine assists.

Thomas Oberst was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.


Thomas Oberst poses on the court and holds a golden basketball.

Thomas Oberst receives the championship game Most Valuable player award from NWBA leadership.


UW-Whitewater started its run March 14 with an 81-59 win against Southwest Minnesota State and punched its ticket to the title contest March 15 with a 74-58 triumph against Alabama in the semifinals.

“We really played our best basketball toward the end of the season, which is exactly what we wanted – we peaked at the right time,” Williams said. “We also knew we had great support from our alumni. We know winning means a lot to them, so that helps drive us to give everything.”

The team’s regular season journey – which began with a home tournament on Dec. 1-2, 2023, at Kachel Fieldhouse in Whitewater – helped prepare the team for the tournament.

“We made some big improvements over this past season,” Williams said. “I noticed how well we grew together as a team, formed strong bonds, and learned to play for each other. We also developed mental toughness, which helps in the big games like the ones this past weekend.”

Williams now sets his sights on the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, which are set for Aug. 28-Sept. 8.


AJ Fitzpatrick celebrates on the court with his arms raised.

AJ Fitzpatrick and his UW-Whitewater teammates celebrate following the Warhawks’ win against Arizona in the NWBA national championship game on March 16, 2024.


Five Warhawks competed along with Williams for the gold medal-winning Team USA last summer at the 2023 Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile. AJ Fitzpatrick, a human performance major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Talen Jourdan, a general business major from Deerfield, and Warhawk alums John Boie and Jeromie Meyer were part of that team.

All five hope to be selected for the Paris 2024 roster, which will be announced in early April.

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