Track & field pole vaulter Joe Vils and football offensive lineman Alex Wipperfurth were selected as the men's recipients of 2020 UW-Oshkosh John Taylor Senior Scholar-Athlete Award.
The John Taylor Award is presented annually to an outstanding senior student-athlete who has compiled a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or higher. The award reflects not only individual athletic achievements, but also embodies the ideals of team contribution, scholastic endeavor and community involvement.
Vils was a four-year member of the UW-Oshkosh track & field program. The Oshkosh West High School graduate competed in 14 meets for the Titans in 2017, 19 in 2018, 15 in 2019 and nine in 2020.
Vils qualified for the NCAA Division III Championship in the pole vault five times – three indoors and two outdoors. His scheduled appearance at this year's national indoor meet as well as UW-Oshkosh's entire 2020 outdoor season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Vils earned both of his All-America awards at the Division III Outdoor Championship. He finished eighth in the pole vault at the 2018 meet (15-9) and fourth in 2019 (15-11). Vils was seeded eighth for the 2020 national meet that was canceled.
In WIAC Championship competition, Vils was a two-time all-league second team performer. He achieved that recognition by placing second in the pole vault at the 2019 and 2020 indoor meets. Vils also placed sixth in 2019 and third in 2018 at the conference outdoor meets.
Vils helped UW-Oshkosh finish fourth outdoors and ninth indoors at the 2019 Division III Championships. The Titans also were the WIAC runner-up twice in 2019 (indoor & outdoor) and once in 2020 (indoor).
Vils owns career-best pole vault heights of 16-4 3/4 indoors and 16-9 1/4 outdoors. Both standards for the two-time Division III All-Midwest Region performer were set during the 2019 season.
In the classroom Vils holds a 3.29 cumulative grade point average as a medical engineering technology major. The three-time WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll member received All-Academic honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in 2018.
Vils has volunteered at the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry and sporting events hosted by UW-Oshkosh.
Wipperfurth started all 11 games for UW-Oshkosh in 2019 and received All-WIAC First Team honors. He was part of an offensive line that helped the Titans lead the conference with 4.7 yards per carry and 14 sacks allowed while ranking second in the league with 184.3 rushing yards per game.
UW-Oshkosh posted an 8-3 record (6-1 WIAC) this past fall to mark the program's ninth consecutive winning season. The Titans clinched a share of their 11th WIAC title and secured the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Championship by defeating previously unbeaten UW-Whitewater, 27-20, in the regular season finale. UW-Oshkosh then lost a 38-37 overtime decision to Central College (Iowa) during the first round of the Division III Championship.
Wipperfurth started 31 of the last 35 contests he played for the Titans. In 2018 he started all 10 contests for a UW-Oshkosh team that registered a 6-4 record and finished third in the WIAC. In 2017 Wipperfurth started all 11 games for a UW-Oshkosh squad that compiled a 12-1 record, won the WIAC championship and advanced to the semifinals of the Division III Championship. The Sauk Prairie High School graduate appeared in four games for a 2016 UW-Oshkosh team that tallied a 13-2 record, finished second in the WIAC and participated in the Division III national title game.
Off the field, Wipperfurth owns a 3.47 cumulative GPA as an education major. He is a four-time University Dean's List member and a three-time selection to the WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll. Last fall Wipperfurth was one of 185 semifinalists for the NFF's 2019 William V. Campbell Trophy, an award that recognizes the best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
Wipperfurth has also been involved with several campus and community organizations, including the Oshkosh Polar Plunge, Feeding America, Old Glory Honor Flight, and Be The Match.
Other nominees for this year's UW-Oshkosh John Taylor Men's Senior Scholar-Athlete Award were Jake Homan from baseball and Nick Engels from cross country/track & field.
The UW-Oshkosh John Taylor Men's Senior Scholar-Athlete Award was first presented in 1976.