Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Track runs laps around Big Ten

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Some things just never get old.

For the Wisconsin track team, winning the indoor Big Ten championship is one of those things.


The Badgers won their record eighth-straight conference title Sunday with a total of 127 points ? 25 points ahead of second-place Purdue and 45 points ahead of third-place Ohio State.

?The eighth-straight is wonderful and great, but I will say that was a very special meet because we were home,? UW head coach Ed Nuttycombe said. ?I don?t think at the beginning of the year anybody would have picked us to win because of all the people we graduated last year. It was a tremendous team effort, and I do think we were helped by being at home.?

UW set up its eighth-straight indoor Big Ten championship with a strong showing on day one, especially in the last two events.

In the 3,000-meter run, the Badgers picked up 18 points with sophomore Brandon Bethke winning the event with a time of 8:10.80. Wisconsin also placed two more in the top six with sophomore Andrew Lacy (8:18.25) placing fourth and junior Stuart Eagon (8:21.33) three seconds behind him in sixth.

In the final event of the day, UW won its first distance medley relay since 2001 when the quartet of Craig Miller, Luke Hoenecke, Joe Pierre and Jack Bolas took first place with a time of 9:54.25.

?The 3,000 and the [distance medley relay] at the end, we knew we did well,? Nuttycombe said. ?I don?t know if you expect to win, but you hope to win when you have good athletes like Bethke and Bolas on the anchor on those kinds of settings.?

While Wisconsin entered day two with a seven-point lead over Minnesota, it became clear that the conference title would be a two-team race between Wisconsin and Purdue, who surged past the Gophers early on in the second day.

UW got off to a good start in the first race of the day: the mile. After qualifying four runners the day before, Wisconsin placed all four in the top five to pick up 23 points. Freshman Evan Jager (4:22.54) finished second with teammates Craig Miller (4:23.65), Ryan Gasper (4:23.99) and Jack Bolas (4:24.25) right behind in third through fifth, respectively.

However, despite the strong performance in the mile, Purdue had taken a 3 1/2-point lead with only four events remaining. That’s when UW stepped on the gas over the last four events to reclaim the lead.

Freshman Luke Rucks got things going by winning the 600-meter run with a time of 1:18.49.

Then came the 5,000-meter run, where UW also shined. After staying back in the pack for most of the race, Bethke found himself near the front with a few laps left. Then, on the final lap, he surged past Hassan Mead of Minnesota and ran away with the event to become a two-time Big Ten champion after winning the 3,000-meter run the day before.

Bethke finished with a time of 14:23.84, and his teammates Matt Withrow, Landon, Peacock and Stuart Eagon finished third through fifth, respectively, to pick up 25 big points to secure the team title.

?We knew we just had to come out and get some points,? Bethke said. ?It was real close between us and Purdue. I knew we had a good group of guys running with us. We just had to get up in there and stick our noses in the race and try and get some points for the team.?

With the team title already wrapped up, the quartet of Andrew Milenkovski, Quinn Evans, Luke Hoenecke and James Groce finished second in the 4×400-meter relay.

Freshman David Grzesiak also finished third in the heptathlon and won the heptathlon high jump at six feet, 11 1/2 inches.

After the meet, Wisconsin was thankful for the sold-out crowds that came and supported the team both days.

?Any time anybody from Wisconsin was passing somebody, the whole entire crowd would stand up,? Bethke said. ?They pumped us up. I just loved taking the lead. Whenever I took the lead, the whole entire crowd would stand up and that went for everybody. They cared about the littlest thing. A guy passes somebody from eighth to seventh, every little thing the crowd was in it for us. It was huge.?

Besides celebrating another title with the fans, Wisconsin was able to celebrate the win with track alumni as well. More than 150 former UW track stars were in attendance, including Al Toon and five-time individual national champion Chris Solinksy.

?The reunion was wonderful,? Nuttycombe said. ?The reunion was amazing to see all the faces I was familiar with and a lot of the faces and names from the past. I think they had a great time. I?m glad they had a great time. I?m glad they shared it with me, but I think they shared it with themselves, too.?

The alumni also were on hand to see Nuttycombe become the winningest coach in Big Ten history.

Nuttycombe now has more Big Ten titles (24) than any other coach in any sport in conference history. Nuttycombe passed Indiana men?s swimming coach James ?Doc? Counsilman, who won 23 Big Ten titles from 1958-1990.

?When I hear Doc Counsilman, that?s exactly what I think of: legendary,? Nuttycombe said. ?I?m just honored and proud to be mentioned in the same breath because he is a legend. It?s something I never envisioned.?

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