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Badgers' Cato once again feeling at home at Nebraska

<b>Japheth Cato leads the heptathlon at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational after the first day of competition.</b>

Japheth Cato leads the heptathlon at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational after the first day of competition.

Feb. 1, 2013

Frank Sevigne Invitational Results Get    Acrobat  Reader

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Japheth Cato has once again made himself at the Devaney Center.

A year after Cato’s record-setting season took off inside Nebraska’s indoor facility during the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational, the Wisconsin senior is well on his way to defending his meet title in the heptathlon.

Thanks to a strong effort in the four disciplines contested Friday, Cato racked up a score of 3,271 points holds a 157-point lead over New Mexico’s Richard York (3,114). Wisconsin sophomore Zach Ziemek is third after the first day of competition with 3,069 points, while UW redshirt freshman Ben Screib stands fifth (2,868).

Redshirt freshman Charlie Foss gives the Badgers four competitors in the top 10 and stands in eighth place at 2,773.

Cato is finds himself ahead of the pace he used at last year’s meet to smash the then-14-year-old Big Ten heptathlon record. He amassed 3,247 points through the first day of competition at the 2012 Frank Sevigne Invitational on his way to a then-record total of 5,939.

Cato is also looking to maintain his perfect record in Lincoln. Just three weeks after his initial record effort, he returned to the Devaney Center to win his second-consecutive Big Ten heptathlon title by posting what was then the second-best score in league history at 5,902. He then went on to break his own Big Ten record at the NCAA championships by scoring 6,082 points.

After a strong opener this time around, Cato finds himself just 62 points off that record-setting pace from last year’s NCAA meet, when he opened with a first-day total of 3,333 points.

On Friday, Cato’s biggest splash came in the opening event, when he ran a field-leading and personal-best time of 7.01 seconds in the 60 meters. The effort allowed Cato to break his own school record in the heptathlon 60, which had stood at 7.05.

Ziemek was second-fastest in a personal-best time of 7.10.

Cato led the way in the long jump, as well, posting a leap of 24 feet, 2 1/2 inches on his first attempt. Ziemek had the third-best jump in the field at 22-8 1/2.

The Badgers duo also posted the top marks in the high jump, with Cato clearing 6-8 3/4 and Ziemek making it over at 6-6 1/4.

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The Badgers are also off and running at the Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind., with UW’s entry breezing to a win in the distance medley relay. The quartet of Danny Buechel, Grant Bughman, Austin Mudd and Maverick Darling clocked a time of 9:49.45 to win with a cushion of nearly 11 seconds over runner-up Memphis.

The Badgers’ effort ranks them second in the Big Ten this season.

Senior Zach Mellon also opened his indoor season with a fifth-place finish in the 1000 meters, racing to a time of 2:26.84.

Competition at Notre Dame continues Saturday, with live results available.

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The Badgers also sent a small group to compete in the Squig Converse Invitational in nearby Whitewater, Wis.

Junior Danny Block was the class of the field in the shot put, throwing 58 feet, 4 3/4 inches to secure the win.

In the weight throw, junior Michael Lihrman smashed the facility record and won by a margin of nearly 8 1/2 feet with his winning effort of 69-4 1/4. The transfer to UW was competing unattached, but his mark would have shattered the Badgers’ school record by five feet.

On the track, the duo of senior Matt Kerswill and freshman Fred Willis went 1-2 in the 60 meters, with Kerswill clocking in at 6.97 and Willis on his heels in 6.99.

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