Former Badgers ranked among U.S. best for '09

Six former University of Wisconsin athletes are included in the 2009 edition of Track & Field News' annual ranking of the top U.S. men's athletes.

The four former Badgers who competed for the U.S. in the IAAF World Championships in Athletics over the summer are ranked among the top 10 in their respective events, as are a pair of former UW field-event stars.

The trio of Matt Tegenkamp, Chris Solinsky and Evan Jager each were ranked in the 5,000 meters, the event in which all three competed for Team USA at the world championships.

Tegenkamp, the reigning U.S. champion at 5,000 meters, stands No. 2 in the publication's year-end rankings, while Solinsky is ranked fourth and Jager fifth. The trio's world championships teammate, Bernard Lagat, leads the U.S. rankings in the 5,000.

Jager has the distinction of being ranked in a pair of events, as he also finishes the year at No. 7 in the 1,500 meters. Lagat was ranked No. 1 in that event, as well.

While Tegenkamp -- who finished fourth at the 2007 World Championships and was an Olympian in 2008 -- and Solinsky have become household names in the distance community, Jager made the 5,000 meters rankings in his first season competing in the event.

Tegenkamp's No. 2 position came as a result of his win at the U.S. championships, his eighth-place finish at worlds and the 12:58.56 he ran in Brussels in September to become the fourth American to clock a 5,000 in under 13 minutes.

The other former Badger ranked in the distance events is Tim Nelson, who finishes the year at No. 3 in the 10,000 meters. Nelson finished third at the U.S. championships and went on to finish 17th in his first world championships appearance.

After his personal-best run of 27:36.99 in May, Nelson ranks No. 14 on the all-time American list in the 10,000. He also scored impressive runner-up finishes in the U.S. 15K road championships and the U.S. cross country championships in '09 as part of a banner season.

All four former Badgers train with former UW head cross country coach Jerry Schumacher as part of the Nike Oregon Project.

Off the track, Darren Niedermeyer is ranked No. 8 in the pole vault on Track & Field News' list. The former Big Ten champion began the year by winning the 2009 National Pole Vault Summit and finishing fourth at the Millrose Games in January, clearing 18-0 1/2.

Niedermeyer cleared 18-2 1/2 at the U.S. championships, good for an 11th-place finish.

Also included in the year-end rankings is Joe Detmer, who finishes the year at No. 7 in the decathlon. His year was highlighted by a second-place finish in the annual Thorpe Cup competition that pits the U.S.'s top decathletes against those from Germany.

Detmer tallied a score 7,892 -- the second-highest of his career -- to help the U.S. to the team title for a third-consecutive year. That performance came on the heels of his performance at the U.S. championships, where a no-height in the pole vault relegated him to a 12th-place finish.

They're just numbers, but the Track & Field News rankings put a nice bow on what was an outstanding year for former Badgers on the national and international scene.

ON WISCONSIN