May 17, 2014
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.-- Fans in the Big Ten were wondering if they were seeing double as Zach Ziemek, also known as "Double Z," claimed his second-straight Big Ten decathlon title on Saturday at Rankin Track and Field.
The junior tallied 7,659 points over the course of the two-day, 10-discipline event and bested Michigan State's Kurt Schneider by 228 points to successfully defend his title.
Coupled with the outstanding start the Badgers enjoyed on Friday, Ziemek's win helped UW maintain the team lead heading into the final day of competition Sunday. Wisconsin's total of 64 points has the Badgers ahead of second-place Nebraska (42 points) and third-place Michigan (35).
Ziemek started the second day of the decathlon the same way he did the first, by winning the opening event on the track. The junior took the top spot in the 110 hurdles in 14.85 seconds, marking the first time he's broken 15 seconds in the event. He followed up the win by finishing runner-up in the discus with a heave of 141 feet, 9 inches.
The turning point of the event was the pole vault, as Ziemek utilized one of his best events to distance himself from the field. Entering the competition with the bar at 15-9 after every other athlete had been eliminated, he cleared 16-0 1/4, almost a foot higher than runners-up Corey Hammon of Illinois and Dylan Anderson of Indiana. Ziemek came close to matching his outdoor personal-best mark of 16-8 3/4, but still walked away from the event with 880 points.
Ziemek was fifth in the javelin with a throw of 168-4 and he finished off his title run by placing sixth in the 1500 in 4:59.48.
"It feels really good," Ziemek said. "These past few days have been awful for doing the multi due to the weather. The hammer throw and the 10,000 guys, we were all able to get through it. It feels pretty good to be able to get through it all."
Charlie Foss turned in a fourth-place showing in the decathlon with a personal-best score of 6,963 points.
Foss set three personal bests over the course of the final five events, as the redshirt sophomore was sixth in the 110 hurdles with a PR of 15.26. After a discus heave of 120-2, Foss followed with a clearance of 13-9 3/4 in the pole vault, besting his previous best of 13-7 1/4. In the javelin, Foss placed third with a toss of 181-0. He capped off the day with a 1500 meters time of 5:09.72.
Senior Alex Brill, the conference's defending champion in the steeplechase, placed fifth in the event 8:52.36. Brill was second for most of the 3000-meter race, but a strong charge by Ohio State's Jackson Neff thwarted Brill's shot of a repeat.
In the pole vault, Jesse Johnson and Japheth Cato both cleared 16-8 3/4, with Johnson taking sixth and Cato tying for seventh, based on total misses. Cato also placed seventh in the long jump, soaring 23-9 1/2.
Senior Danny Block, the 2012 Big Ten champion in the discus, was seventh in the event with a throw of 178-11.
The Badgers' 4x100 relay squad of James Stecker, Babatunde Awosika, Garret Payne and Ziemek advanced to Sunday's final with a time of 41.11, the eighth-fastest time of the day.
Awosika also joined Ryan Davis in advancing to the final of the 400 meters. Davis clocked in at 47.39 for the seventh-fastest time, while Awosika was close behind in 47.41 for eighth.
Austin Mudd and Carl Hirsch advanced to the finals of the 800 meters, as Mudd earned an automatic spot by winning his heat in 1:50.19 and Hirsch took third in 1:50.62 to qualify for the final based on time.
In the 1500 meters, Alex Hatz advanced to the finals by crossing the line in 3:49.87 to post the fourth-best time in the preliminary round.
"Ziemek and Foss were huge in the decathlon for us," UW Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Mick Byrne said. "To come away with 15 points in the event was great for us. We also got some nice contributions today from Alex Brill, Japheth Cato, Jesse Johnson and Danny Block.
"Our guys are fired up for tomorrow and we're excited to see what's in store."
The final day of the Big Ten championships begins at 10 a.m. (CT) on Sunday with the men's javelin and the women's triple jump. The first event on the track will be the women's 4x100 relay at 11:45 a.m., while the men's 4x100 follows at 11:55.