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Lihrman's UW debut comes on big stage

MTRK_130301_Lihrman_Michael.jpg- USA Indoor Championships Information

Michael Lihrman's journey to the Badgers has not been a traditional one. But Wisconsin is sure happy to have him.

Lihrman, a junior transfer from Division III UW-Stout, will compete in the weight throw at the 2013 USA Indoor Track and Field Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. (CT).

The competition, held at the Albuquerque Convention Center, features many of the nation's elite track and field athletes as they compete in the world's oldest indoor track championship.

The event also will mark Lihrman's first official competition wearing the Badgers' uniform, meaning UW's school record is likely in jeopardy.

Lihrman got a late start in track and field, joining the sport his junior year at Rice Lake High School. After being named conference field athlete of the year as a senior, Lihrman enrolled at UW-Stout to compete as a collegiate thrower.

Last season at UW-Stout, Lihrman finished 11th in the weight throw at the 2012 NCAA Division III indoor Championships and finished fourth in the hammer throw at the outdoor championships.

After his sophomore year, however, he transferred to Wisconsin and has been throwing like a Division I athlete ever since.

Although Lihrman is redshirting this season and competes unattached, he has won the weight throw in each of the four meets he has competed in.

The junior had displayed remarkable consistency, winning each meet with marks that would have broken the Badgers school record of 64 feet, 4 1/2 inches if he had been competing in a UW uniform.

Lihrman's best throw came at the Red & White Open on Feb. 15, when he threw a personal-best and Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center (The Shell) facility-record toss of 70 feet, 10 3/4 inches.

Despite the victories and record heaves, Lihrman is comfortable redshirting his first season at Wisconsin.

"It actually hasn't been that different because I pretty much competed with the team the entire year," Lihrman said. "I know next year, and the year after that, I will have even bigger opportunities."

Lihrman is thrilled about the chance to compete at a prestigious event like the USA indoor championships during a redshirt year.

"I actually had no idea that I could do that," he said. "I wasn't really sure what the boundaries are for a redshirt so I'm extremely excited."

Not only will Lihrman get to compete against some of the country's premier athletes, he will also get a feel for the facility that will host the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships. But the junior is taking things one step at a time.

"There will be some pretty big competitors there," Lihrman said. "My expectations are to just have fun."

2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships - Day 2 Updates

Follow along for regular updates throughout the final day of competition at the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships, live from the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Brian Mason of UW Athletic Communications will offer updates during both days of competition while also taking your comments and questions.

- Men's Preview  |  Women's Preview  |  Live Results

Big Ten Indoor Track & Field - Day 1 Updates

Follow along for regular updates throughout the first day of competition at the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships, live from the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Brian Mason of UW Athletic Communications will offer updates during both days of competition while also taking your comments and questions.

- Men's Preview  |  Women's Preview  |  Live Results

The Voice: Six set to join elite group in Hall of Fame

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgThis Friday evening, the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame will add six new members -- Jim Haluska, Jim Haines, Lawrence Johnson, Karen Lunda, Cory Raymer and Dick Bennett.

In Varsity magazine a couple of weeks ago, Mike Lucas took us down memory lane with Raymer, the All-America center who helped the Badgers to their first-ever Rose Bowl victory, as well as with Coach Bennett, who no doubt is best known for leading the Badgers on the magical run to the 2000 Final Four.

In addition to being a great player, Raymer was a reporter's dream. Maybe the best way to describe Cory Raymer is by saying he was John Moffitt before we ever heard of John Moffitt. During a media day, some photographers were gathering players for various photos. Raymer emerged from the tunnel and heard his name. The center responded "I answer to anything with 'dumb' in front of it."  

Raymer was dumb like a fox.

The media loved Bennett, as well. He liked to tell fans that he could show Barry Alvarez's football team how to pass, while Coach Alvarez's boys could teach the basketball squad how to run.

But never confuse their sense of humor with their competitive nature. No doubt the desire to maximize his or her potential is what drove each member in the Class of 2012.

Wrestler Jim Haines overcame a knee injury and competed in the 1976 Olympic Summer Games. The following season at Wisconsin, Haines became an NCAA champion by beating Big Ten rival Mike McArthur of Minnesota.

Former coach Duane Kleven says Haines had a combination of toughness and smarts that made him extra special, referring to him as a "mental giant."  When his wrestling days were done, Haines became a coach -- of girls' softball at Pepin High School. He led his team to two state titles.

With this year marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX, one could make a strong argument that Karen Lunda is one of the more important athletes in UW history. Lunda lettered both in field hockey and soccer. While attending Madison West High School, she also played tennis, softball and competed in speed skating.

After starring in field hockey in her first three years at UW, the school dropped the program, so she turned her attention to the new varsity sport on campus, soccer.

In 1981, Lunda became the first Badger women's soccer All-American. More than three decades later, she remains the UW single-season leader in goals (22), assists (18) and total points (62). Her coach, Craig Webb, believes if Karen Lunda played soccer today, she would be an Olympic gold medalist.

Lawrence Johnson also was a two-sport athlete. A Big Ten champion in four events in track, Johnson was an All-America defensive back for the Badgers in 1978. His coaches said he played man coverage better than anyone on the team, and opposing coaches must have agreed. Johnson's interception total was modest, in large part because quarterbacks would tend not to test him.

Johnson also likes to tell the story of how, in his freshman year, there was a 100-yard dash after a practice. Before the race, his new football teammates must have had little if any knowledge of Johnson's speed. Halfway through the race, they found out. Simply put, Lawrence Johnson was more than a track star who could play football, or vice-versa. He simply was a star in both sports.

Today, Badger football fans are well aware of transfer quarterbacks, but the story might not be as new as you think.

In 1950, Jim Haluska enrolled at Michigan. In time, he decided that Ann Arbor was not for him, so the Racine native returned to his home state. In 1952, he went from being the fifth-string quarterback to the starter. A few months later, Haluska led the league in completion percentage, and the Badgers were Rose Bowl-bound for the first time in school history.

Each inductee should be very proud to be a UW Athletic Hall of Famer. That elite group grows to 190 members. What already is a good "team" is about to get even better.

Mo's Olympic Journal: Feeling good as race day nears


Photo: Team Canada poses for a group picture at its training camp in Kamen, Germany. (Photo courtesy former Badger Hilary Stellingwerff - @stellingwerff on Twitter)

By Mohammed Ahmed

Hello again Badger fans!

I have been unable to find Internet access over the last couple of days to post, so I apologize for that.

It is hard to believe the week in Germany is almost coming to an end. I don't know where the week went!

Other than running, eating, hanging out with teammates and sleeping I have not accomplished too much. Training is going really well and I feel I have gotten into shape a little more with the workouts I have been able to do over the last few weeks, and especially the last few days.

I did some kilometer repeats on Wednesday and I averaged a little faster than race pace (2:43), which I was really happy with. On Saturday, I did four-mile tempo with Cam Levins and we ran them all under five minutes per mile, which was a lot faster than planned.

During this period of time you have to have a lot of confidence to do well, and I believe I am mentally at a place that I have not been since before Big Tens and Payton Jordan. (Note: Ahmed ran his Olympic qualifying time of 27:34.64 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in April).

Now I need to mentally screw my head tight and not get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the race and atmosphere. 

Although I am in Germany, one of the most beautiful places in the world, I have been unable to find time to sightsee. The only sights I have seen thus far are places I ran by or through, but I will try to get out for a little bit and walk around the area before I head back to London on Wednesday.

I have my last major workout before my race on Tuesday and I am looking forward to it as it signals how close the competition is -- as well as some downtime afterwards.

Mohammed Ahmed

Mo's Olympic Journal: Training camp opens in Germany


Photo: Home away from home in the Olympic Village

By Mohammed Ahmed

Hello again Badger fans! Greetings from Kamen, Germany.

The last afternoon and night (July 23rd) at the Olympic Village was filled with great memories. At mid afternoon we went over to the Canadian fitting area to get fitted on our gear, and to say we are spoiled is an understatement. We got to try on 26 different pairs of items that did not include the gear Athletics Canada gives us. All in all, we have tons of gear and I won't be needing to use any of my normal clothes I brought with me!

I went for my run at Victory Park  and I had couple of joggers attempt to drop me, but they got denied once I started running at six-minute per mile pace. I did some float-around 200s at the practice track afterwards and I got to meet legendary Somalian 1500-meter runner and 1987 world champion Abdi Bile sitting at the side of the track.

Afterwards, I went to Westfield Mall and met up with my good friend and former training partner, Ryan, and his girlfriend, Sophie, who were vacationing in the area. It was great seeing some familiar faces to make me feel like home in London.  

I did not have a great sleep the last night there because I woke up to the practice fireworks for the opening ceremonies at midnight and could not fall back to sleep. How inconsiderate, London (LOL)! The little sleep made the trip to Germany hard because I was sleepy.
We got into Kamen, Germany, yesterday afternoon after an eight-hour travel day. After two hours of relaxing I went out for my run with Cam Levins, who will be racing with me in the 10K and also racing the 5K afterwards. I went for a 75-minute run and did a little pick-up in the middle of the run and it felt really good.

After the run, I came back to my room and passed out almost as soon as I got back. I slept nine hours, which was really good, but after a disastrous sleep the night before and the journey over to Germany I expected it. I forced myself to get up at around 8 local time, though I could have used couple more hours of sleep, and went for a 30 minute jog.

Waking up early in the morning and jogging gets me to acclimate quicker to the time change. Afterwards, I ate my breakfast, checked out the facilities and relaxed in my huge room.

The set up we have here in Kamen is phenomenal, we are at the "Kamen Sport Center" and we have everything we can ever need at our convenience. We have a world-class medical team (doctor, physio-therapists, massage therapists, etc.), other staff, coaches and training facilities (the track is a two-minute walk from the residence, and we have great trail system a seven-minute jog away).

With such a great setup I should be able to train hard and get fit to take on the best in the world.

I am off to do my first workout session since last Saturday, hopefully it flushes me out of the jet lag I am feeling

Mohammed Ahmed

Mo's Olympic Journal: Welcome to London


Mohammed Ahmed will compete for his native Canada at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Before he runs in the men's 10,000 meters on Aug. 4, Ahmed will provide regular updates on his travels for UWBadgers.com.

By Mohammed Ahmed

Hello Badger Fans! Greetings from London.

I got to London safely after a decently long travel day on Saturday. I flew from Madison to Chicago and then straight to London. The flight did not feel too long because I was passed out after an hour in the air and didn't wake up until an hour before landing time.

The travel to the Olympic Village was surprisingly long, though. After landing at 11 a.m., I did not get into the village until two hours later. The bus took forever and we had to go through several checkpoints for security. The security is intense and, every time we leave the village, we have to get checked again and we have to have our accreditation pass on us at all times.  

The village is really nice. It feels like I am at campus with so many athletes walking around. After arrival to the village I got set up at my room and I tried to get accustomed to the cell phone they gave us and meet my teammates. I tried sleeping a little, but I could not fall asleep, so I went for my run with the lads.

I went for a 50-minute run with Alex Genest (steeplechaser) and Nate Brannen (1500 meters) and then did some strides at the practice track (by the way, the track felt super fast and it is a similar surface to what we should be competing on). I slept really well last night and I don't feel too bad walking around today (Monday), so hopefully I should be accustomed to the time change soon enough.

I fly out Tuesday morning to Germany for a pre-Olympic training camp and will be coming back to London on Aug. 1. I won't participate on the Opening Ceremony, which is a little sad, but I should have a lot of fun hanging out with the best Canadian runners and some Germans.

I will try to get another post to you guys once I am in Germany.

Until then,
Mohammed Ahmed

What to Watch For: Olympic Trials Day 5

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The 2012 USA Olympic Trials resume Thursday in Eugene, Ore., with the biggest day of competition yet for those with ties to the Wisconsin men's and women's track programs.

A total of seven Badgers -- either current or former -- are set to compete inside Hayward Field when the Trials resume at 5:50 p.m. (CT). Here's a quick rundown on what to watch for.

Keep in mind that tonight's live television window runs from 8-10 p.m. on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).

Men's 1500 Meters - Qualifying - 6:20 p.m.
- Top six per heat, plus next six fastest times, advance to Friday semifinals
- Rob Finnerty (Wisconsin), Jack Bolas (New Balance), Craig Miller (New Balance)

Finnerty has been riding a hot streak since breaking out by winning the 1500 meters at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in late May. He followed that with a fifth-place finish and All-America honors in the event at the NCAA outdoor championships.

It took an eleventh-hour run (literally) for Finnerty to make the Trials, however, as he clocked in at a personal-best 3:38.60 to achieve the automatic qualifying standard at a special race in Bloomington, Ind., just hours before the qualification deadline closed on June 10. Finnerty runs in the third of three preliminary-round heats.

Bolas and Miller, both 2010 graduates of UW, continue as teammates for New Balance and will race together in the first heat of the preliminary round.

In his second Olympic Trials appearance -- he also qualified in 2008 -- Bolas enters as the No. 10 seed for the competition at 3:36.33. Miller will make his debut at the Trials as the No. 12 seed with a personal-best time of 3:36.35.

Women's High Jump - Qualifying - 7 p.m.
- Top 12 advance to final
- Megan Seidl (Wisconsin Runner Racing Team)

Megan Seidl, a 2010 UW graduate, makes her third-consecutive appearance at a U.S. championship meet, entering the high jump prelims tied for the No. 9 seed with her personal-best clearance of 6 feet, 1 1/2 inches.

The 2008 Big Ten outdoor champion, Seidl was a two-time NCAA championships qualifier for the Badgers as a senior in 2010. That year, she went on to finish seventh at the U.S. championships in Des Moines. Seidl finished 14th in last year's U.S. meet in Eugene.

Seidl's best finish in a national meet came when she tied for third at the 2011 USA Indoor Championships.

Men's Pole Vault - Final - 7:05 p.m.

- Top 3 eligible for U.S. national team
- Darren Niedermeyer (Jump High Athletic Club)

Darren Niedermeyer survived and advanced through a brutal qualifying round in the pole vault Monday, tying for sixth to advance as one of 11 qualifiers for the final.

In chilly, damp conditions, the 2005 UW graduate managed to clear 17 feet, 4 1/2 inches on his third and final attempt at the height -- which proved to be the cutoff for advancement to the final.

Niedermeyer was the last man to make the trials field, entering tied for the No. 23 seed at 18-1.

He owns a lifetime-best clearance of 18-9, which he would have to top in order to make Team USA even with a top-three finish. The "A" qualifying standard for the London Olympics is 18-9 1/4.

Niedermeyer won the 2004 indoor and 2005 outdoor Big Ten pole vault titles for the Badgers, and his most recent major success came when he won the 2010 Drake Relays title in the pole vault by upsetting 2008 Olympic Trials winner Derek Miles, who also is in Thursday's final.

Women's Shot Put - Qualifying - 7:40 p.m.
- Top 12 advance to Friday final
- Kelsey Card (Wisconsin)

Kelsey Card looks to extend her tremendous rookie season another day as she competes in the qualifying round of the women's shot put.

Card actually competed in the discus at the NCAA outdoor championships earlier this month, but her All-America effort in the shot put from the indoor season is what qualified her for the Olympic Trials.

Her school-record throw of 55-8 1/2 has Card tied for the No. 19 seed entering Thursday's qualifying round. She will look to improve that standing in order to advance, as the top 12 finishers in the 23-woman field will move on to Friday's final.

Card is no stranger to competing on the national stage at Hayward Field. She won the national junior title in the shot put at the 2011 USA Junior Championships at Hayward on her way to claiming bronze for Team USA at the 2011 Pan Am Junior Championships.

Men's 3000 Steeplechase - Final - 8:30 p.m.
- Top 3 eligible for U.S. national team
- Evan Jager (Oregon Track Club Elite)

Evan Jager has quickly gone from steeplechase novice to a popular pick for Team USA in the event. He'll get the chance to live up to that hype in the final of the event Thursday.

In his first season competing in the steeple, Jager entered the Olympic Trials seeded No. 9 with his personal-best time of 8:20.90. He easily advanced out of the qualifying round Monday by winning his section in 8:30.60.

Jager competed just one season in Madison, earning All-America honors with an eighth-place finish in the 1500 meters at the NCAA outdoor championships and then finishing eighth in the 1500 at the 2008 IAAF World Junior Championships.

Shortly after, he followed former Badgers Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp in moving west to train under former UW assistant coach Jerry Schumacher as part of Oregon Track Club Elite in Portland. The move paid immediately dividends for Jager, who made it an all-Badgers trio representing Team USA in the 5000 meters at the 2009 IAAF World Championships.

Lucas at Large: Ahmed's dream season not over yet

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There was Mohammed Ahmed's fifth-place finish in the NCAA cross country championship that helped spark Wisconsin to its fifth national team title the in sport, and first since 2005.
"One of the greatest moments of my life," he said.
There was Ahmed's run in the 10,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational that easily met the Olympic "A" qualifying standard and broke the school record by nearly 30 seconds.
"A lot of pressure was relieved from my shoulders," he said.
Ahmed_sm.jpgThere was Ahmed's win in the 5000 at the Big Ten outdoor championships that was a meet record and one of two first-place medals UW captured in winning its first crown since 2007.
"The way we came together was true teamwork," he said.
And there was Ahmed's seventh-place finish in the 5K at the NCAA outdoor meet that validated his All-America status a second time despite limited training because of an Achilles injury.
"I wasn't happy with the way I finished, but running is a great metaphor for life," he said.
In other words, you take the good with the very good -- or the exceptional -- in Ahmed's case. Given his list of individual and team accomplishments, what would rank at the top of his list?
"Winning nationals as a team, that's number one," he said. "Cross country was a magical year. The title will be something I'll cherish for the rest of my life. It was a beautiful moment."
Beautiful, he said, because of the chemistry with Elliot Krause, Ryan Collins, Reed Connor and Maverick Darling. Beautiful because it rewarded coach Mick Byrne with a much-deserved title.
It was also beautiful, he said, because of what it told him about his running skills. "Finishing fifth told me that I belonged at the top of the NCAA," Ahmed said. "That helped me a lot."
Ahmed spent the indoor season "training very hard with the focus on going to the Olympics -- and with my first race (the Payton Jordan) I got that out of the way."
That's where the confidence gained from his success competing during the cross country season really kicked in -- in what was, at the time in late April, the fastest 10,000 meters race in the world.
"I thought to myself, 'If you can race with the guys in the NCAA, you can keep up with them, why not here?"' he said, convincing himself that "I can definitely do it."
That confidence carried over to the outdoor season and the Big Ten meet in front of the home fans. "Everyone was doing it for the seniors," said Ahmed, a junior from St. Catharines, Ontario.
Few, he noted, will ever forget senior Kyle Jefferson's true grit during his leg of the 4x400 relay.
"The amount of toughness that he displayed is going to be his legacy," Ahmed said, "and something we talk about every time we see each other or at team reunions.
"It didn't take one person to win the Big Ten title. It took everybody. It took throwers, distance guys, sprinters. Everybody came together. It was a great feeling."
Despite dealing with his Achilles injury, Ahmed is feeling much better in advance of Sunday's departure for Calgary and the Canadian Olympic Trials. He will race Wednesday in the 10,000 meters.
Ahmed is one of two runners who met the "A" qualifying standard. The other, Cameron Levins, who won the Payton Jordan event and claimed two NCAA titles, will compete in only the 5000, though he will double at the Olympics.
"Physically, I'm at a good spot; I'm not burned out yet, I still feel fresh," Ahmed said. "It's all mental now. And I'm going to treat this race just like it was any other race.
"I've learned that you've got to use the nervousness to your advantage. It's good energy if you use it to get ready. I'm not putting this race on a pedestal just because it's the Olympic trials."
Ahmed is looking forward to running for Canada in London.
In a sense, the truest sense, he said, he would be also running for the Badgers.
"Being a Wisconsin Badger," he said, "whether it's my identity on the track as a runner or that of a student, is something that is going to be a part of me forever and ever."

Achievements of the Year: Ahmed runs Olympic qualifying time


Over the course of two weeks, UW Athletics will look back on the Badgers' biggest accomplishments during the 2011-12 season. The first week (June 18-22) highlights the top five individual achievements, with team accomplishments highlighted June 25-29.

Mohammed Ahmed's return to the track turned out to be an introduction to the world stage.

After redshirting the indoor season following an outstanding cross country campaign that saw him win the Big Ten title and earn All-America honors with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA championship, Ahmed had set his sights on taking a run at the automatic qualifying standard for the Olympic Games in the 10,000 meters.

He planned on giving himself one chance to hit that mark, at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on April 29 in Palo Alto, Calif. Turns out, all Ahmed needed was that one shot.

The St. Catharines, Ontario, native clocked in at 27 minutes, 34.64 seconds to not only achieve the Olympic "A" standard but also smash the 36-year-old Big Ten record in the event.

Ahmed's time stood as the No. 6 mark in the world for several weeks.

The performance also helped propel Ahmed to a Big Ten title in the 5000 meters two weeks later as he boosted the Badgers to the conference team title. He also scored All-America honors in the 5000 with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA outdoor championships.

Now, all that stands between Ahmed and a spot on his native Canada's team for the Olympics in London is a top-three finish at next week's 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials in Calgary.

- Full story: Ahmed qualifies for Olympics with school-record run