Feb. 20, 2014
• Meet Results | @BadgerTrack
MADISON, Wis. -- The No. 5-ranked Wisconsin men’s track and field will compete in one final tune-up before next week’s 2014 Big Ten Indoor Championships, when the Badgers host the Red & White Open on Friday.
The annual meet begins at 3 p.m. inside Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center (The Shell). Admission to the event is free.
The competition is set to begin with the women’s weight throw at 3 p.m., while action on the track starts at 4:00 p.m. with the first two sections of the men’s 3000 meters.
With the Big Ten championships only one week away, the Red & White Open is the Badgers’ last opportunity to compete before they travel to the conference meet, which will take place at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, next Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28-March 1.
“We like competing at home,” said UW Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Mick Byrne. “We like the advantages of being at home as we won’t have to travel. We do get some favorable 200-meter flat track adjustments, and we are going to try and take advantage of that.
“We have some kids on the bubble to qualify for Big Tens,” Byrne said. “There are some kids that still have an opportunity to qualify and we have challenged them to perform at home this weekend at a certain level and we expect them to do that.”
In addition to being the final competition before the Big Ten meet, the Red & White Open will be the last opportunity for athletes to compete at home in hopes of earning an NCAA-qualifying time or mark. Unlike past seasons, there will no longer be a last-chance meet after the conference championships for athletes to qualify for the NCAA meet in Albuquerque, N.M., March 14-15.
“All of the sudden the season has been shortened by one week,” Byrne said. “I like the new format. I like the fact that we will go to Big Tens and after that, that’s it. To me, the conference meet should be the final meet before the NCAA championship.”
A pair of distance events will likely highlight Friday’s action on the track. At 6:06 p.m., Junior Austin Mudd and freshman Carl Hirsch will compete in the mile. Mudd will look to regain last year’s form, when he earned All-America honors in the event by finishing third in a school record 3 minutes, 57.93 seconds.
“They haven’t raced a lot this year,” Byrne said. “Mudd has been down a little bit this year, but he is on his way back. He seems to be getting over the hump.”
The junior will also compete in the 800 meters at 6:46 p.m., an event in which he ranks No. 5 all-time at UW (1:47.59).
The meet’s most anticipated race will come at the very end, as the second section of the 3000 meters is scheduled to begin at 7:35 p.m. The race will feature Reed Connor, who ran the fourth-fastest 5000 meters in the world last week at the Iowa State Classic, Olympian Mohammed Ahmed, who will race for only the second time this season, and redshirt freshman Malachy Schrobilgen, who was an 2013 All-American and Big Ten cross country champion.
“The object on Friday is to get the NCAA qualifying time,” Byrne said. “You hope to take advantage of being at home. We will get after it and hopefully get some great times.”
Michael Lihrman will attempt to win the weight throw for the fourth time in as many tries. The junior from Rice Lake, Wis., has had an impressive season thus far, earning two Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week honors and extending his own personal and school record in the event twice in 2014.
Danny Block, who ranks No. 15 in the country in the shot put, will look to build on previous performances this season when he competes in the event Friday evening. Block holds the shot put school record of 65 feet, 7 1/2 inches and was a Big Ten champion and All-American in the event last year.
After clearing 18-2 1/2 in the pole vault to set a new school record with a mark that ranks fourth nationally in Arkansas last weekend, Japheth Cato will continue working towards the heptathlon he will see at the conference meet. The senior is slated to compete in the high jump and 60-meter dash. Multi-event Zach Ziemek will join Cato in the high jump.
Like last week at the Tyson Invitational, the Badgers will race two 4x400 relay teams at the Red & White Open at 7:22 p.m. The quartets will include Shawn Michels, Austin Mudd, Will Ottow, Garret Payne, Justin Rabon, Zach Reitzug, Drew Simmons and Matt Widule.