With victories in nine of 18 events, the Wisconsin men’s track team took home top honors Saturday against host Missouri 92-90 at the Tom Botts Invitational.
The Badgers and Tigers were the only two teams in the invitational making it a duel between the two squads; however, Wisconsin eventually came out on top thanks to a balance in both the track and field events, winning four of the track events and five field events.
On the track, UW was led individually by Babatunde Awosika, a senior sprinter from Milwaukee. Awosika garnered wins in the 200 and 400 meters and not only won both races, but set personal bests in the two events as well. In his first race in the 200 meters, Awosika finished first in a time of 21.44 seconds, which was the fastest time in the event for a Badger this season and the fastest time for Awosika in the 200 in his career. Awosika followed that performance up in the 400 meters with a first-place finish in a time of 47.17, once again the fastest time for a UW athlete in the event this season.
A pair of other Wisconsin sprinters outside of Awosika also finished strong in the 200 and 400 meter races, as freshman Ryan Davis and junior Garret Payne finished right behind Awosika in both races coming in second and third, respectively.
The other wins for Wisconsin in the track events came via the relays, and the two victories near the end of the invitational in the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays helped the Badgers just outpace the Tigers. In the 4×100 meter relay, Wisconsin won the event with a trio of freshmen running along with Payne. The quartet consisting of Payne, Brandon Kappel, Justin Rabon and James Stecker finished the distance of the track in 40.90 seconds, just under a second ahead of Missouri, which finished in a time of 41.73.
Then, in the last event of the day in the 4×400 meter relay Wisconsin came in first place once again, toppling Missouri in a time of 3:13.94. The Badgers second relay team of Shawn Michels, William Ottow, Aaron Thompson and Justin Rabon also outpaced the first relay team of the Tigers, finishing in a time of 3:19.94, just under two seconds ahead of Missouri’s first relay team.
Meanwhile in the field events, Wisconsin was led yet again by Japheth Cato who had two of the Badgers’ five victories in those events. The decorated UW senior had the top marks in the pole vault (17-1 1/2) and the long jump (24-1). Another Badger also came out near the top in the pole vault, as freshman Jesse Johnson also cleared 17-1 1/2, which led him to a second place finish and was also a personal best in the outdoor season.
Wisconsin’s other three wins in the invitational came in the throws, where the Badgers had individuals who won the shot put, hammer throw and discus. In the shot put, UW sophomore Andrew Brekke finished in first place with his throw of 51-6 1/2. Then in the hammer throw, Wisconsin’s Scott Erickson tossed a season-best 190-foot-10 inches, while Alex Thompson threw 178-11 in the discus, which was a personal best on the season for him.
Wisconsin has just one meet left — the Wisconsin open in Madison next weekend — before the Big Ten Outdoor Championships begin May 16 in West Lafayette, Ind.
Uwbadgers.com contributed to this story.