Badger men’s cross-country will once again reach NCAA podium in 2013 campaign
Every August, Badger Nation prepares to devote all eyes, ears and hearts to the 2013 football season. But fans should not forget one of Wisconsin’s most winning programs is back this fall too.
The men’s cross-country team is primed for another successful year, with experience and history on its side.
Finishing second in the NCAA tournament last season, UW is no stranger to success. With a record 41-straight NCAA championship appearances and 22 top-three finishes, including the past three seasons, this Badger squad is the definition of Wisconsin athletic achievements. And this season, the team is not looking to miss a step.
The Badgers return four of their top seven runners from last year’s championship race. Senior Rob Finnerty and junior Alex Hatz are atop the pack who are back this fall and the duo have the experience to lead this team to the NCAA champions podium once again. Both were a source of consistency for UW last season and Finnerty showed he could come through for the team when it counted the most by recording his career-best time in the NCAA race to place fourth for UW. Hatz was right behind him as the fifth scorer for UW.
While Finnerty, Hatz and the rest of the UW squad have large shoes to fill after losing three All Americans in Mohammed Ahmed, Maverick Darling and Reed Connor, new talent has arrived. Redshirt freshman Malachy Schrobilgen brings more experience having spent the past year competing in the 2013 IIAF World Junior Cross country championships.
And if raw talent is enough to propel this team forward, they have a man who knows the recipe for success behind them. Head Coach Mick Byrne has earned coach of the year awards for 22-straight seasons including the past five years at Wisconsin and has brought the UW squad to the NCAA championship podium four times.
Bottom line: If you are looking for a new team to get behind this fall and like to watch a winning squad, these Badger men are your best bet.
Wisconsin women’s soccer eyeing redemption in NCAA tournament after early exit
Sure the cross-country team is good. Some might say great even. But if you’re looking for the best non-football program to pay attention to this fall, the women’s soccer team is more than worth your time.
Despite finishing a mediocre sixth out of twelve last season in the Big Ten, Wisconsin earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament last fall after its first 12-win season since 2005.
Armed with a bevy of talent – including returning leading goalscorer junior Cara Walls – and a healthy chip on their shoulder following a first-round exit in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year, the Badgers return this fall with something they didn’t have last season: experience.
In a squad that contained 11 freshmen last fall, many young players were called on to play big roles for Wisconsin. Now with one year in the competitive Big Ten under their belts, this season promises to be better than the last.
Don’t believe me?
Take a look at their statistics already this fall.
As of Aug. 29, Wisconsin has played one exhibition game and two nonconference regular season games – all of them resulting in wins for UW.
In that relatively small sample size the Badgers have terrorized their opponents. Against Marquette (currently ranked No. 20 in the country), they scored five goals. Then against Connecticut they poured in three more, before most recently torching Illinois State for four goals.
If that is any indication of what is to come this year, fans lucky enough to pay attention could be in for a treat. Where else do you see a soccer team scoring an average of four goals a game? I’ll give you a hint, you don’t.
So yeah, you could go watch the ever-talented men’s cross country team compete for yet another National Championship, but where is the fun in that?
Follow the women’s soccer team and you join it on an underdog quest as team members seek to stun their opponents on the way to an unlikely NCAA tournament run.