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Nuttycombe looks ahead to Big Ten indoor championships

<b>Badgers head coach Ed Nuttycombe looked ahead to this weekend's Big Ten indoor championships.</b>

Badgers head coach Ed Nuttycombe looked ahead to this weekend's Big Ten indoor championships.

Feb. 18, 2013

Watch Nuttycombe Press Conference Small Video Graphic

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's track and field head coach Ed Nuttycombe met with the media Monday to discuss his No. 11 Badgers' preparations for this weekend's 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships.

Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Nuttycombe's remarks can be found below.

NUTTYCOMBE: Well, I share and echo some of the comments previously made by Jim (Stintzi), and that is that it is going to be a very interesting scenario for us being in a neutral site -- or hosted by a non-university Big Ten entity. Don't know whether it's good, don't know whether it's not good. We're going to go, and I guess we're going to find out.

Certainly, he shared with you about the track, and there's no question there's going to be a lot of great, great performances because the facility is just going to allow that to happen.

We're excited about going, and we certainly hope we're going to try to improve on that fifth place from last year. I think there are a number of teams, probably three or four teams, that have a shot at perhaps winning. We're one of those, and we're going to go and give it our best.

QUESTION: Maverick Darling is a guy that had a really great cross country season in 2011, helped win the championship, but never got going in track because of injuries. How good is it to have him back in the fold and running so well?

NUTTYCOMBE: He's such a great competitor, and you're right, he's had consecutive, multiple great seasons in cross country and has been a little frustrated on the track just because injuries have kind of held him back. When you miss numerous weeks or even a couple of months of training at this level, it really hurts you.

He's healthy, excited. That group of runners in the distance area -- Mohammed Ahmed and Mav and Elliott Krause and Austin Mudd and Alex Hatz and Rob Finnerty -- those guys are very talented. They're not over-raced. In fact, some of the more distance-oriented ones -- Mo and Maverick, for instance, and Elliott -- they've only raced one time. You say, how can you be ready to go?  When you're a good athlete, you'll see that they're ready to go.

I think we're real excited to have his leadership as a senior, and he's ready to do well.

QUESTION: As the coach, how much fun is it to watch guys like Mo and Maverick go head to head. Looking at the times, only a couple of seconds separates those two in the 5000 meters.

NUTTYCOMBE: They're not going to let anybody get too far away from them, and it basically always boils to just a kick. It's kind of fun to see who has that little edge at the end between them, and actually, that's the way it's going to be amongst a pretty small group of select athletes in the Big Ten in those 3000 and 5000.

Certainly, we hope that they're in there, but who has that snap in their legs and that little sprint in that last lap or two is going to be the ones that are going to fare the best.

It's fun to watch them. It's fun to watch great athletes, and they certainly are that.

QUESTION: Ed, you kind of mentioned Mo a little bit there, but what should we expect to see out of him this year coming off the Olympics? How is he physically, back to 100 percent?

NUTTYCOMBE: Physically, he's 100 percent. Is he 100 percent in shape? Is it he as sharp as he could be? Probably not, simply because of trying to take some time off after cross country. It's very difficult for those guys to be as razor-sharp as they need to be cross country, indoor and outdoor. It's just hard.

It doesn't mean he's not ready to go. He is. But he'll be more ready later on in the year. It's great to have athletes of that caliber, where you're choosing between good choices -- meaning the three (3000 meters) and the five (5000 meters), whether you run them in both, one, or the other. It's fun to have that opportunity to make choices because they're that good.

QUESTION: Ed, I'm curious. Have these two meets always been in on-campus facilities in the past? What was the impetus behind moving it to a non-Big Ten facility?

NUTTYCOMBE: Good question. Yes, it has forever been on a college campus. Brought on by a number of reasons, but probably, first and foremost, was when the men and women combined into one meet a year ago, you doubled the size of the meet. Anybody who was here in 2008 at the Big Ten championships saw a packed, packed house. They turned people away at the door.

And then all of a sudden, you double the number of competitors and double the potential number of people coming to watch. They're just limited facilities. So this is more or less an experiment. We think it's a good experiment. And we're going to make a decision as a conference sometime in the weeks, if not in the next month or so, after this event to decide whether to go back.

I have no doubt, from an athletic perspective, it's going to be incredible. How it's perceived from a spectator standpoint, and that part of it, I guess we'll find out.

QUESTION: You talked about the balance of trying to get guys ready with not doing too much work, (but) making sure you do enough work. I think the multis, which you coach, that's something that's especially a factor. Does a guy like (Japheth) Cato, who's been around the block a couple of times, does he have a better feel for when he's ready to go?  How does that work in terms of you guys working together to make sure he's in peak condition for championship time?

NUTTYCOMBE: The interesting thing about Cato and perhaps even (Zach) Ziemek, who's a little bit younger -- he's a sophomore -- is they're good in that they're going to do the multi (heptathlon), but they also have a chance to contribute in open events. In the case of Cato, last year he ran the hurdles and long jump, but he's also ranked very high in the pole vault. Although, I guess, in theory, you could do all of them, I'm not sure that's wise placement of them. Sometimes you try to grab too much, and you get a lot of nothing.

But those guys, I think, are ready to go. Cato's had his best two weeks of training all year long, probably his best two weeks of training ever these past couple of weeks. So kind of excited about it.

Danny Block coming off a big throw this weekend -- actually, I shouldn't say a big throw, a big meet, because he had more than one throw of 63-5 and change, whatever it was. He threw another one at 63-3. So he's very excited and ready to go. I think he's ranked No. 1 in his event, in the shot put. So there's good reason for optimism in a number of events.

QUESTION: I don't think it would be a Big Ten meet if we didn't ask you to kind of handicap the race a little bit as far as where you think the chips are going to fall in the team race.

NUTTYCOMBE: I think, if you look at the list, I think you'd have to go with Nebraska as being the odds-on favorite simply because they have more people in more areas than any of the other teams.

They're not so good that they can't be beaten by perhaps Penn State, Minnesota or Wisconsin, but those are the four best teams going in on paper. I would think they would be the top four in hopefully some order, and we're going to try to do the best we can that the order starts with Wisconsin.

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