April 28, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- In the nation’s best meet for distance running, a pair of Wisconsin athletes were at their best Sunday.
Senior Maverick Darling and sophomore Alex Hatz both logged personal-best efforts in their respective events at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. The pair also vaulted to the top of the Big Ten standings and the top five of the national performance lists.
Racing with an elite field of professionals, Darling crossed the line in 13 minutes, 30.40 seconds to finish 16th overall -- and fourth among collegians -- in the top section of the 5000 meters.
His time supplanted teammate Elliot Krause’s 13:34.30 as the Big Ten standard this season and ranks him fourth on the NCAA performance list. It was an impressive time drop of more than 16 seconds for Darling, who entered the race with a lifetime best of 13:46.56.
Darling’s effort was the third-fastest time in UW history, trailing only the 13:25.36 that Matt Tegenkamp logged in 2005 and the 13:27.94 run by Chris Solinsky in 2006.
Solinsky was part of the 5000 meters field Sunday and finished 11th in 13:23.62 after missing the majority of the 2012 season due to injury. Another former Badger, 2012 Olympian Evan Jager, finished second in 13:14.60. Ben True held off Jager for the win in 13:14.44.
Including Darling, each of the top four collegians in Sunday’s race came in under what had been the NCAA’s top time this season, the 13:32.82 run by Arkansas’ Kemoy Campbell last month on the same track at Stanford.
Hatz was equally impressive in winning his section of the 1500 meters in a personal-best time of 3:39.87, a mark that leads the Big Ten this season and ranks No. 3 nationally.
The only faster times by collegians this season came in the section that followed Hatz’s heat, with Oklahoma’s Riley Masters clocking in at 3:38.79 and Stanford’s Michael Atchoo running a 3:39.57. Entering Sunday, the nation’s top time was the 3:40.21 of Oregon junior Mac Fleet.
For Hatz, who previously held the Badgers’ school record in the indoor mile, the effort ranks him 10th in UW history at 1500 meters.
In the same section of the 1500, Wisconsin senior Rob Finnerty was 12th in 3:43.06.
UW sophomore Austin Mudd did not finish his run in the fast section of the 1500, stepping off the track at the direction of coach Mick Byrne due to the effects a lingering illness. A pair of former Badgers also raced in the elite section, with New Balance teammates Jack Bolas (3:39.73) and Craig Miller (3:39.81) finishing sixth and seventh, respectively.
With the Big Ten championships just two weeks away, Wisconsin now turns its attention to the final event of its regular season -- and its lone home meet outdoors -- the Wisconsin Invitational next Saturday, May 4.