May 10, 2014
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MADISON, Wis. - Behind 10 first-place performances, a mighty heave from Michael Lihrman and an impressive throw from Ben Schreib, the Badgers had a productive day of competition at its own Wisconsin Open Saturday at the Dan McClimon Memorial Track/Soccer Complex.
Lihrman couldn't have started the day any better for the No. 15-ranked Wisconsin men's track and field team, as he dominated the hammer throw, the first event of the meet. The junior won with a massive, first-attempt throw of 233 feet, 3 inches, which demolished his previous best of 226-8.
The mark not only extended his own school record, but also set a new facility and Big Ten record. Lihrman's throw broke the McClimon record of 229-6, set by Roman Linscheid (1996) and the conference record of 227-6, set by Ohio State's Dan Taylor (2004). The heave also ranks fifth nationally this season.
"If feels awesome," Lihrman said of his effort. "Just to keep moving up, keep extending the record."
The junior from Rice Lake, Wis., admits he has been battling some nagging injuries over the past couple weeks, and thus surprised himself with his performance on Saturday.
"I didn't expect to throw this far," he said. "I've had such a rough past two or three weeks with all my injuries and trying to recover. But obviously I'm really happy with today."
Setting a PR on his first throw heading into championship season is nothing new for Lihrman. Earlier this year, at the Red & White Open, the junior wanted to open with a massive throw to make a statement for the Big Ten indoor championships that followed a week later. He did just that when he set a new personal, school, facility and NCAA Division I record by winning the weight throw with an incredible mark of 79-7 1/2.
Saturday was no different, as Lihrman made his first throw his best at the meet before conference.
"This is really setting up well for Big Tens," Lihrman said. "Indoors I threw my furthest on my first throw, just before Big Tens, and I did the exact same thing at this meet.
"That was the plan again, and it worked. But I didn't shut it down because I needed to practice and get back in the groove."
Not to be outdone, Scott Erickson and Andrew Brekke competed alongside Lihrman and also had career-best performances. Erickson finished runner-up with a throw of 201-0, setting a PR by exactly four feet, while Brekke placed third (179-6), surpassing his previous best of 175-10.
The other notable performance of the day came from Ben Schreib in the javelin. The sophomore won the event with a tremendous throw of 219-10, setting a new personal record by over 12 feet. The mark, which currently ranks fifth in the Big Ten, stands as the third best in school history, only behind Robert Dehn's throw of 231-10 (2009) and Dave Dmytrow's heave of 231-2 (1992). Teammate Zach Ziemek also competed in the event, finishing runner-up with an eight-foot PR of 191-1.
The Badgers kept the first-place finishes coming early and often as the meet progressed.
Senior Danny Block won the shot put with a heave of 59-4 3/4, his second-best throw of the season, while freshman Jesse Johnson claimed the victory in the pole vault by clearing 16-5 1/4.
Freshman Nate Sullivan, competing unattached in his outdoor collegiate debut, won the 5000 meters in 14 minutes, 14.38 seconds, and junior Matt McKenna won the 1500 in 3:53.12.
In the 110 hurdles, junior Matt Widule used a season-best time of 14.59 to be the first athlete to cross the finish line, while senior Babatunde Awosika won the 400 meters in 47.41.
Sophomore Aaron Thompson won the 400 hurdles in 52.36, his fastest performance of the year, while the quartet of Ryan Davis, Brandon Kappel, Justin Rabon and Matt Widule claimed the victory in the 4x100 in a season-best time of 40.59.
Competition resumes next weekend, May 16-18, when the Badgers enter championship season. Wisconsin will head to Lafayette, Ind. for the 2014 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, hosted by Purdue.