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Rankings show loaded field for Wisconsin adidas Invitational

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By Cristin Fitzpatrick
UW Athletic Communications

This year's Wisconsin adidas Invitational promises to be one for the record books. The University of Wisconsin men's and women's cross country teams play host to the third-annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Friday, Oct. 14.

The meet will feature competition from some of the country's top teams. Both men's and women's groups will see two of the top three ranked teams in the country.

Out of the 40 teams competing, the men's section features 19 teams from U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's national top 30 preseason rankings, including No. 2 Stanford and the host Badgers at No. 3.

The 41-team women's race features 18 of the nation's top 30 teams, including No. 2 New Mexico and No. 3 Providence.

The Badger men took second in last year's competition with a final score of 75 points, led by then-junior Elliot Krause's fourth-place finish. Indiana claimed the team win in the 8-kilometer race with 43 points.

The women pulled out a 15th-place team finish among the 20 teams that competed, including six ranked in the USTFCCCA national poll. Then-junior pacesetter Caitlin Comfort finished strong for the Badgers as the lead finisher among UW runners returning for the 2011 season.

The Zimmer Championship Course looks to some steep competition, with a combined 37 of the country's top men's and women's teams prepared for the gun. That field includes defending men's meet champion Indiana (No. 8) and defending women's champion Syracuse (No. 15).

2011 Wisconsin adidas Invitational
Competing Teams Ranked by USTFCCCA - Men

2. Stanford
3. Wisconsin
4. Oregon
8. Indiana
11. Princeton
12. Northern Arizona
13. NC State
14. Syracuse
16. BYU
17. Villanova
18. Providence
21. New Mexico
22. Georgetown
23. Notre Dame
24. Texas
25. Ohio State
26. Florida
27. Minnesota
29. Arizona State

2011 Wisconsin adidas Invitational
Competing Teams Ranked by USTFCCCA - Women

2. New Mexico
3. Providence
5. Villanova
7. Stanford
8. Arizona
10. Iowa State
11. Washington
12. North Carolina
15. Syracuse
16. Oregon
18. Boston College
21. NC State
22. Princeton
22. Florida
27. Toledo
28. Iowa
29. Michigan State
30. Minnesota

Badger men open season ranked No. 1 in Great Lakes Region

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From left, Maverick Darling, Elliot Krause, Mohammed Ahmed and Reed Connor will anchor the Badgers' efforts in 2011.

Winners of nine-straight NCAA Great Lakes Regional championships, the Wisconsin men's cross country team opens the 2011 season as the region's No. 1-ranked team.

The Badgers top the regional rankings, which were released Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. UW also finished the 2010 season ranked atop the Great Lakes Region.

In all, UW has taken the crown at 15 of the last 20 runnings of the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and seeks its 10th-straight title when the event moves to Toledo, Ohio, on Nov. 12. The following year, the Badgers are scheduled to host the 2012 NCAA Great Lakes Regional at the Zimmer Championship Course in Madison.

Big Ten Conference teams hold down six of the top nine spots in the USTFCCCA preseason rankings, with five of the top six squads hailing from the Big Ten. UW leads the way, followed by No. 2 Indiana, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Michigan and No. 6 Michigan State. Purdue checks in at No. 9.

The USTFCCCA will release the preseason edition of its national rankings Tuesday.

USTFCCCA Men's Cross Country Rankings
Great Lakes Region - 2011 Preseason

1. Wisconsin
2. Indiana
3. Ohio State
4. Notre Dame
5. Michigan
6. Michigan State
7. Butler
8. Cincinnati
9. Purdue
10. Indiana State
11. Eastern Michigan
12. Marquette
13. Kent State
14. Xavier
15. Dayton

Gilreath runs away with fan vote

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After a week of voting, Badgers fans have spoken with their pick for the top play of the 2010-11 season. In reality, the contest was probably over before it started.

The play that got the football Badgers' thrilling 31-18 win over No. 1-ranked Ohio State "underway with ... a ... bang" ran away with nearly half the votes.

David Gilreath's 97-yard return for touchdown on the game's opening kickoff claimed 48.7 percent of the vote to take the title in the UW Athletics 2010-11 Play of the Year poll.

Runner-up honors -- with 27.2 percent of the fan vote -- went to women's hockey's Kelly Nash, who tallied the game-winner in overtime to secure the WCHA Final Face-off crown over Minnesota.

Josh Gasser's buzzer-beating 3-pointer garnered 9.5 percent of the vote to finish third, and Landon Peacock's last-gasp pass for the Big Ten cross country title was fourth with 5.3 percent. Justin Schultz's overtime game-winner for the Badger men rounded out the top five with 4.3 percent.

Here's a look at the complete poll results:
48.7%  David Gilreath - Football - Opening kickoff return for TD vs. Ohio State (Oct. 16)
27.2%  Kelly Nash - Women's Hockey- OT game-winner in WCHA Final Face-Off (March 5)
9.5%   Josh Gasser - Men's Basketball - Buzzer-beating 3-pointer at Michigan (Feb. 23)
5.3%   Landon Peacock - Men's Cross Country - Late pass to win Big Ten title (Oct. 31)
4.3%   Justin Schultz - Men's Hockey - OT game-winning goal vs. Canisius (Jan. 8)
3.5%   Brad Nortman - Football - Fake punt to keep drive alive vs. Iowa (Oct. 23)
1.4%   Lin Zastrow - Women's Basketball - Game-tying tip-in at buzzer vs. Wyoming (Dec. 15)

And, in case you want to see it again, the top play in UW sports for 2010-11:


2010-11 Athlete of the Year: The contenders

Each year, Wisconsin Athletics submits its top men's and women's athletes for the prestigious Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year and Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year awards, presented annually by the Big Ten Conference.

The Badgers' nominees are considered to be the UW Male Athlete of the Year and UW Female Athlete of the Year award winners.

With UW teams experiencing success across the board during the 2010-11 season, it's as difficult a job as ever to narrow the field to just one deserving student-athlete on both the men's and women's sides of competition.

The winner of UW's awards will be announced Friday, but you can read profiles on each of the nominees who were not selected today. Then, make your own decision and vote in our polls on Facebook to determine the fans' choice for the Badgers' top athletes in 2010-11.

(Yes, it's pretty easy to figure out who will be announced as winners Friday...)



Men's Candidates

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Gabe Carimi (Football)
The 29th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, Gabe Carimi started 49 games throughout his Badger career. A 2010 consensus first-team All-American, Carimi became the second Badger to win the Outland Trophy, given annually to the nation's top interior lineman. He is just the eighth Badger to earn unanimous, consensus first-team All-America honors.

Last season Carimi was a key cog in an offense that led the Big Ten and averaged a school-record 41.5 points per game (fifth in the country), including 45.2 points per game in Big Ten play, second-best in conference history. UW also led the Big Ten and ranked 12th in the country in rushing offense, nearly becoming the first FBS team in history to have three running backs go over 1,000 yards in the same season.

At left tackle, Carimi lined up against some of the best defensive linemen in the country, including All-Americans Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue, Cameron Heyward of Ohio State and Adrian Clayborn of Iowa. He was just the third player in Badger history to earn Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors.

Earlier this month, Carimi was named Wisconsin's male Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient. He graduated in May with 3.13 grade-point average in civil and environmental engineering and was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

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Landon Peacock (Cross Country)
Landon Peacock capped off his senior season for the Badgers in style with a come-from-behind performance that gave him the win in a dramatic men's race at the 2010 Big Ten Cross Country Championship.

The Morley, Mich., native claimed his first individual Big Ten title by a half-second, out-leaning Indiana's Andrew Bayer at the finish line for the win. Peacock clocked in at 23 minutes, 40.8 seconds, while Bayer was second in 23:41.3.

The victory made Peacock UW's 27th individual conference champion and led the way for the Badgers to secure their 12th-consecutive team crown in the first-ever Big Ten championship held at their own Zimmer Championship Course.

Sitting fifth heading into the course's finishing chute, Peacock charged past teammate Mohammed Ahmed and Minnesota's Ben Blankenship and trailed only Bayer with 30 meters to go. He finally hunted the Hoosier down at the line to become UW's first individual titlist since Matt Withrow in 2007.

He went on to earn first-team all-region honors with a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional -- as UW won its eighth-straight team title -- and then scored All-America laurels for the second time in his career with a 20th-place showing at the 2010 NCAA Championship.

In track, Peacock was unable to defend his 2010 Big Ten title in the 5,000 meters as an injury sidelined him for the duration of the indoor season. However, he came back outdoors to finish fifth at the Big Ten meet in the 5,000 and then posted a personal-best time of 13:42.90 in the event at the 2011 NCAA West Preliminary Round. 

Despite the outstanding time, which would have won the other preliminary-round heat in Eugene, Ore., as well as both sections of the event at the NCAA East Preliminary Round site, Peacock did not advance to the NCAA championships due to regional qualifying procedures.

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Anchoring the blue line for the Badgers in the 2010-11 season, Justin Schultz completed his sophomore campaign as the nation's top-scoring defenseman with 18 goals and 47 points.  His 18 goals were the most by a blueliner in the nation since 2002-03 and was just one shy of the UW single-season record for a defenseman.

Schultz had a remarkable sophomore season and did not go more than two games without a point. He scored the opening goal of a game five times and led the Badgers with 14 multi-point games.

The All-American was also named Defenseman of the Year by Inside College Hockey,  WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-WCHA,  was one of the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award and earned a spot on College Hockey News' national first team.

On Nov. 27 against Michigan State, Schultz became the sixth Badger defenseman in program history -- and the first since 1991-92 -- to record a hat trick. He was also the sixth Wisconsin defenseman to lead the team in points. 

Schultz was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week after scoring the overtime game-winner in a 6-5 victory over Canisius on Jan. 8, snapping UW's 26-game overtime winless drought.  He tallied three assists against Alabama Huntsville on Oct. 17 and had a total of three multi-goal games on the year. 

In part to Schultz's efforts, Wisconsin ranked No. 8 nationally in goals-against average at 2.39. The Badgers also had the nation's top-scoring defensive corps, with a combined 120 points from the blue line. 

Women's Candidates

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Dorcas Akinniyi (Track & Field)
Dorcas Akinniyi continues to haul in hardware every time she heads to a championship meet. The Carrollton, Texas, native added to her collection in 2011 with All-America honors both indoors and outdoors.

Akinniyi has qualified for the NCAA championships in all five seasons -- indoor and outdoor combined -- in which she's been eligible. After this season, she has also collected an All-America award four times. 

She posted her best-ever NCAA finish with an outstanding fourth-place showing in the pentathlon at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships, racking up a school-record total of 4,254 points to earn her first All-America laurel of the year. 

That performance came on the heels of her second-consecutive conference title in the pentathlon at the 2011 Big Ten Indoor Championships, where she scored 3,929 points.

Moving outdoors, Akinniyi earned a berth directly to the NCAA championships by virtue of her heptathlon score of 5,352 points at the Mt. SAC Relays Multi-Events in April. She also qualified for the 2011 NCAA West Preliminary Round in the open high jump for the second-straight season.

At the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Akinniyi piled up 5,554 points -- just 30 markers shy of her lifetime-best score -- to finish sixth in the heptathlon and secure the fourth All-America honor of her career. A career-best 3,469 points on the opening day of the two-day, seven-event competition propelled Akinniyi to another top-eight finish.

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Hilary Knight (Hockey)
After taking a year off to compete with the U.S. Olympic Team in the 2010 Winter Games, Hilary Knight returned to Wisconsin for her junior season, leading the nation with 47 goals and helping the Badgers to their fourth NCAA championship.

Third in the nation in points with 81 on the season, the alternate captain now sits in third place on the UW all-time career-scoring list with 202 points.

Knight tallied a career-best 20-game point streak that spanned from Dec. 10 to Feb. 26, tying for the second-longest steak in UW history. In 41 games, she recorded 25 multi-point games, including three five-point efforts and four hat tricks. With her 47 goals, Knight scored more goals than four NCAA Division I teams did all year.

Knight was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week twice, once after tallying five points against RPI on Oct. 2 and lastly on Jan. 5 after having back-to-back four-point games against Northeastern and Mercyhurst  at the Easton Holiday Showcase.

Scoring just 47 seconds into the Fill the Bowl contest at the Kohl Center, Knight tallied the first of three goals as the Badgers downed Minnesota, 3-1, in front of 10,668 fans on Jan. 29. Her game-winning goal against Bemidji State on Feb. 4 marked her 100th career tally.

She led UW with two points, including the game-tying goal and an assist on the game-winner, against Minnesota Duluth in an NCAA regional game on March 12. She went on to record three assists at the Frozen Four, including two in a 3-2 win over Boston College on March 18 in the national semifinal game. 

On the national stage, Knight represented the United States as a member of the Women's Under-22 Select Team at the 2010 USA Hockey Women's National Festival and a three-game series against Canada.

Knight tallied three points for the U.S. Women's Select Team in the 2010 Women's Four Nations Cup in St. John's, Canada, where Team USA placed second.

After winning the national title with Wisconsin, Knight scored the game-winner in overtime against Canada as the U.S. Women's National Team claimed gold in April's 2011 IIHF World Women's Championship in Zurich and Winterthur, Switzerland.

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Maggie Meyer (Swimming)
Maggie Meyer capped off a brilliant career at Wisconsin by becoming the first national champion in program history when she won the 200-yard backstroke at the 2011 NCAA Championships in March. Meyer finished the NCAAs as a six-time All-American and was an 11-time All-American for her career. 

With seven honorable mention All-America honors in career as well, Meyer tied for the second-most All-America accolades in school history with 18.

The 2011 Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, Meyer won five of the six events she entered at the 2011 Big Ten Championships, bumping her career total to 10 conference titles. The White Bear Lake, Minn., native swept the 100 and 200 backstroke events, then recorded relay wins in the 400 free, 200 medley and 400 medley. 

She set four school records as a senior, bringing her career total to six. Meyer also set a Big Ten record in the 200 medley relay.

In addition to setting the school record in the 200 back, Meyer also lowered the mark individually in the 100 back (51.66). In the relays, Meyer was a part of record-setting teams in the 200 medley relay (1:35.71) and 400 medley relay (3:31.73).

Meyer dominated the backstroke events in 2010-11, going undefeated in the 200 backstroke and winning 10 of 11 races in the 100 back. All told, Meyer won 38 out of possible 57 races she entered during the season either as an individual or as a member of a relay unit.

Former Badgers shine at NYC Marathon

The buildup to Sunday's New York City Marathon focused on the debuts of rookies -- and former University of Wisconsin All-Americans -- Simon Bairu and Tim Nelson.

In the end, it was Nelson and the much-less publicized Matt Downin that proudly carried the flag for the Badgers. Nelson was 13th overall in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 6 seconds -- a time that placed him an impressive fourth among U.S. finishers.

The 33-year-old Downin wasn't far back in 18th, finishing the 26.2-mile course in 2:20:41 to place seventh among Americans. During his time at UW, Downin was a four-time All-American and two-time Big Ten cross country champion.

Bairu won a pair of NCAA cross country titles for the Badgers, but did not find as much success in his marathon debut. The Canadian national record-holder at 10,000 meters dropped out of the race after 23 miles.

Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia won the race in 2:08.14.

Chris Solinsky, a training partner of fellow former Badger teammates Bairu and Nelson, is expected to eventually make the transition to marathons but was driven around the route of this year's NYC event by organizers in a truck.

Considered the "future" of the event by the race's director, Solinsky's experience was chronicled by George Vecsey of the New York Times.

Bairu and Nelson, meanwhile, had plenty of coverage of their preparation for the marathon. Follow the links below for the 'Rookies vs. the World' video series on the duo and training partner Shalane Flanagan, as well as Bairu's blog for the New York Times and both athletes' take on Twitter.

- Complete Results: New York City Marathon
- Rookies vs. the World video series
- Bairu's New York Times blog
- Twitter: Bairu (@SimonBairu)  |  Nelson (@ThatRunnerGuy)

Badgers recognized by FloTrack readers

The Wisconsin women's and men's track and field teams find themselves receiving accolades in the 2010 FloAwards from flotrack.org.

The UW men were voted as a sleeper pick in the FloAwards, as the Badgers are returning four of their top five teams from last year's seventh-place NCAA team. FloTrack highlights the Badgers' top returnees, including sophomore Mohammed Ahmed and senior Landon Peacock.

Freshman Alex Hatz looks to be a threat in the upcoming indoor seasons according to FloTrack, after receiving 83 votes from fans to earn a spot on the site's FloFrosh rankings. Based on his performance as a high school athlete, the readers ranked him fourth in the FloFrosh rundown.

On the women's side, freshman Emily Sisson is expected to contribute significantly in the upcoming season and earned the top spot in the women's FloFrosh. Sisson's performance in the summer looks to have sky-rocketed her status, as she finished third at the 2009 Footlocker Championships and ran personal bests in both the 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters at the World Junior Championships. Sisson has the fastest 5,000-meter time of any woman in the NCAA field.

Both the UW men's and women's cross country teams will be running this Saturday in the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, and you can catch Emily Sisson among those competing for Wisconsin.

Bolas, Miller off to fast start as pros

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After four years together as members of the Wisconsin men's track and field team, Jack Bolas and Craig Miller are spending at least one more summer as training partners.

And, just like their time as Badgers, it's hard to argue with the results.

The pair signed on to run professionally for New Balance just days after their collegiate careers came to an end at last month's 2010 USA Outdoor Championships and, the same week, began competing as pros in Europe.

The duo kicked off their post-collegiate careers with a 1-2 finish in the 1,500 meters at the British Milers Club Grand Prix in Solihull, England, on Saturday.

Bolas won the race in 3:40.91 and finished a half-second ahead of Miller, who ran a season-best 3:41.41 to grab the runner-up spot. The duo were the only Americans in the 12-man field.

For Miller, the performance came on the heels of another runner-up finish in his professional debut July 3 in Cork, Ireland. There, he clocked in at 8:02.89 to finish a close second to Australian Ben St. Laurence in the 3,000 meters at the 59th annual Cork City Sports meet.

The pair plan to run at least two more races on their European swing, beginning with the Folksam Grand Prix stop in Karlstad, Sweden, on Thursday. They also are planning to run in the Morton Mile Meeting in Dublin, Ireland, on July 21.

Miller finished his career at Wisconsin as an eight-time All-American after claiming a seventh-place finish in the 1,500 meters at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships in June.

Bolas, who held off Miller to win the Big Ten title in May, went on to finish fourth at the NCAA championships and collect the fourth All-America award of his career.

Solinsky profiled by Sports Illustrated

Solinsky_Chris_Cardinal_10_5_Blog.jpegChris Solinsky's American-record run in the 10,000 meters last month -- along with a near-record run in the 5,000 meters in early June -- has put the former Badger in the spotlight of the running world.

A whole new audience is learning of Solinsky's accomplishments -- not to mention his seemingly endless potential -- thanks to a profile in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated.

Long-time SI writer Tim Layden put together a great piece on Solinsky's path to the pinnacle of American distance running, as well as the unconventional build of his body that draws even more attention to his feats.

"Solinsky, meanwhile, is 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, with the definition and muscle mass of a wrestler or a Division III safety," Layden writes.

Layden has posted a longer version of the feature online at SI.com, with fellow former Badgers Matt Tegenkamp and Simon Bairu providing some insight on their Nike teammate.

SI.com: Chris Solinsky is breaking records without conventional runner's build

Vote early and vote Badger

Jorgensen_Gwen_BT_09_Blog.jpegThe United States Olympic Committee has opened its monthly polls for the top U.S. male and female teams and athletes in May, and a pair of former Badgers are among the choices.

Vote soon, however, because Sunday is the final day to take part in the polls.

Former Badger cross country and track All-American Gwen Jorgensen is up for USOC May Female Athlete of the Month after a runner-up performance in her international debut for USA Triathlon.

Jorgensen finished a very close second at the 2010 World University Triathlon Championships in Valencia, Spain, on May 30.  |  Vote for Jorgensen

You can also vote for Jorgensen's U.S. women's triathlon team, which scored a silver-medal finish at the world university championships, for USOC May Team of the Month.  |  Vote for the U.S. women

Chris Solinsky, a five-time NCAA champion during his days as a Badger, started the month of May with a bang when he shattered the American record in the 10,000 meters with a time of 26:59.60. The performance has him up for USOC May Male Athlete of the Month.  |  Vote for Solinsky

Solinsky flirts with American 5K record

Solinsky_Chris_Payton_Jordan_10K_AR_2._Blog.jpgChris Solinsky wanted to take a shot at the American record in the 5,000 meters Friday in Oslo, Norway, and take a shot he did.

The former Badger ran just off the pace of the previous American mark at the Bislett Games, finishing sixth in a world-class field at the IAAF Diamond League event with a personal-best time of 12:56.66.

He finished only tenths of a second off the previous American record of 12:56.27 set last year by Dathan Ritzenhein.

It's appropriate to say "previous American record" because Solinsky's U.S. counterpart and two-time world champion Bernard Lagat topped the mark with his third-place run of 12:54.12.

Ethiopians Imane Merga (12:53.81) and Tariku Bekele (12:53.97) hit the line first in a tightly-packed group that saw each of the top 10 finishers crack the 13-minute mark.

Solinsky has said previously that he plans to make a run at the American record when the Diamond League stops at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., on July 3. Now, he'll have a faster mark to chase.

- Bislett Games Results
- All-Time Sub-13:00 Club (Track & Field News)
ON WISCONSIN