After winning their record eighth consecutive Big Ten title in the Indoor Championships, 12 members of the Wisconsin men’s track and field team will head to Notre Dame this weekend for the Alex Wilson Invitational.
This represents the last opportunity for athletes to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., next weekend. Wisconsin head coach Ed Nuttycombe, who was named Indoor Coach of the Year following last weekend’s title, says he looked at a few different factors in deciding who to send to the invitational.
?First, who has a legitimate shot at qualifying?? Nuttycombe explained. ?Second, who has earned the right as an upperclassman?And third, who is really excited about competing one more time?So we look at anyone who really wants to go, particularly upperclassmen.?
Several Badgers find themselves on the proverbial bubble as they head into the weekend looking to hit the NCAA provisional marks and qualify for the national meet.Wisconsin already has eight NCAA qualifiers, but Nuttycombe thinks several others could join that group with strong performances at Notre Dame.
?[Ryan] Gasper in the mile has a chance,? Nuttycombe said.?Rayme Mackinson could do it because it really only takes one jump.The [1600-meter] relay would have to run very, very well, but they have a chance.?
Runner James Groce, who recently received first-team All-Big Ten honors, figures to improve that chance when he and his teammates take the track for the 1600-meter relay.Groce won his first individual Big Ten title last weekend in the 600-meter race.
?I think we can get it done,? Groce said.?We were only two-tenths of a second off the provisional mark last time, and that was when we were still doing some strength work and had heavy legs midseason.?
While the NCAA Indoor Championships loom on the immediate horizon, the Badgers all agree that they are already eagerly anticipating the outdoor track season.
?I cannot wait to get out on a 400-meter oval,? distance runner Ryan Gasper said.?The indoor season is pretty short and pretty intense.?
?When I look outside and see all the snow, and I know the start of the outdoor season means we get to go south, I look forward to it a lot right now,? Nuttycombe said.?Indoor track is an awesome environment, but in the end the outdoor season is more important.?
In just a couple weeks, they will get their wish.