Badgers end indoor season on top, finishing 3rd at NCAAs

first_imgAfter predicting his team to place somewhere between fourth and sixth place in the NCAA Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships, head coach Ed Nuttycombe isn’t complaining about bringing home the team’s third-place hardware after competing in Fayetteville, Ark., March 8 and 9.“It feels good to be wrong,” Nuttycombe said. “That was about as complete of a team effort at the highest level of collegiate track and field that you could have.”The team placed third behind the three-time champs, Florida, and the No. 1 Arkansas. The Badgers scored 33 total points and Florida and Arkansas racked up 59 and 74 points, respectively.“We wanted to get third really bad and everyone was able to execute. We performed very well, so it was a good day,” sophomore Zach Ziemek said.Ultimately, Nuttycombe knew it wasn’t likely Wisconsin would be able to beat teams like Arkansas and Florida due to the amount of athletes they had qualify. The Badgers sent just seven athletes.Nonetheless, they fought their way to the podium after six of the seven qualifying athletes scored points for the Badgers.“We took seven guys [and] six guys scored – that’s like sending seven people to the batter’s box and six of them get hits,” Nuttycombe said. “On top of that, they set four school records, tied an American record and did it all at the most important meet of the year.”These points came from sophomores Austin Mudd and Ziemek, juniors Japheth Cato and Danny Block and seniors Maverick Darling and Mohammed Ahmed.Nuttycombe said what really got the team’s energy going was Block’s third-place finish in the shot put. Block threw a massive 65 feet, 7.5 inches – the best throw of his career.“I don’t think you can dismiss how important something like that is at that point in the meet,” Nuttycombe said.From there, the records started breaking.Mudd found himself an automatic qualifier in the preliminary mile run after placing third with a time of 4:02.10. The next day in the finals, Mudd ran a new personal best and broke the school record with a time of 3:57.93.In the heptathlon, Cato finished with 6,165 points, just 10 points behind champion Kevin Lazas of Arkansas who scored 6,175 points. This was the closest finish in NCAA history. Cato’s score broke the school record, his personal best and was also the highest nonwinning score in NCAA history.Also in the heptathlon, Ziemek found himself finishing in fifth place after breaking three of his personal bests in day one. By day two, the sophomore tied the collegiate record in the pole vault with 17 feet, 8.5 inches. He also nearly broke the world record of 18 feet, 0.75 inches.“Hopefully I can match that again and maybe go a little bit higher,” Ziemek said.As for the 5,000 meter-run, Darling and Ahmed tag-teamed to place themselves in fourth and fifth place after going in ranked sixth and ninth, respectively. Ahmed finished in 13:41.84, while Darling finished in 13:25.38.“[Ahmed] and I, we’ve been doing this for years now, feeding off of each other. We kind of go back and forth; one race it’s him, one race it’s me. We just work together so well,” said Darling.Ahmed is redshirting in the outdoor season, making this his last race with Darling wearing the Wisconsin uniform. For Darling, it was bittersweet.“Of all the things we’ve been through and all the races we’ve done together, it was just really fantastic to go four and five,” said Darling.Senior Elliot Krause also raced in the 5,000-meter run and placed 12th overall.Darling also found himself competing in the 3,000-meter run, just a day after running in the 5,000.“I wish that race would have gone a little bit better,” Darling said. “At the end of the day, I went out there and gave it my all and tried picking up another team point. [I] just wasn’t able to do it.”Nuttycombe said that a multitude of athletes tried to come back the second day after competing in the 5,000 and did not fair nearly as well as they should have. He said both races were just extremely fast races, but Darling held on as much as he could.“He was doing everything he could because he really wanted to try to score a point or two for the team,” said Nuttycombe. “He came up short point-wise but didn’t come up short effort-wise.”The Badgers wound up finishing with six of seven athletes placing in the top five of their respective races, breaking school records and personal bests, tying collegiate records and nearly breaking world records.“We had a legitimate chance to go and get a trophy because each one of us was capable of scoring,” said Darling. “To take seven guys and be able to do that is pretty significant.”last_img

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