Feb. 28, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- The Badgers are not only racing against the clock this weekend, they're also racing against the calendar.
Just a week removed from a dramatic win that claimed the conference title for UW at the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships, the Wisconsin men's track and field team has already hit the end of the road when it comes to qualifying for the NCAA championships.
With one last chance to qualify for the national meet this weekend, the Badgers split up to compete at Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational and their own Wisconsin NCAA Qualifier.
The Badgers, who jumped all the way to No. 4 in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national rankings after last weekend's conference title, host their final home meet of the indoor season Friday in the Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center (The Shell).
Meanwhile, a group of Badgers will travel to Notre Dame for the Alex Wilson Invitational, one of the premier meets for the final weekend before the NCAA indoor championships.
They will compete in the two-day competition in hopes of qualifying for next weekend's NCAA indoor championships, which are set for March 8-9 in Fayetteville, Ark.
This season marks a major change in qualifying for the meet, with the NCAA no longer relying on predetermined time or mark standards to determine the participants. Instead, a hard cap on the number of entries in each event has been put in place.
When the dust settles from last-chance weekend on Sunday, the top 16 athletes and top 12 relay teams in each event will be awarded berths to the NCAA championships.
Heading into the weekend, Wisconsin has six athletes in six different events that seem to be safe bets for the NCAA indoor championships:
In the 800 meters, sophomore Austin Mudd ranks ninth nationally, posting a time of 1 minute, 48.24 seconds.
Senior Maverick Darling ranks fifth nationally in the 5000 meters at 13:38.71 and seventh in the 3000 meters at 7:50.97. Junior Mohammed Ahmed is also ranked in the 5000, standing eighth at 13:40.43.
After his record-setting performance at the Big Ten championships, junior Japheth Cato ranks No. 2 in the nation in the heptathlon with a career-best score of 6,090 points. The junior also ranks sixth in the long jump with a leap of 25 feet, 9 1/4 inches.
Sophomore Zach Ziemek also has qualified in the heptathlon after his performance last weekend, ranking sixth nationally with a personal-best total of 5,846 points.
Junior Danny Block is ninth nationally in the shot put after his school-record heave of 63-7 3/4 at the conference meet.
Senior Elliot Krause will run the 5000 meters at Notre Dame in hopes of moving into the top 16. The senior currently stands No. 22 in the event at 13:53.60. His race, which will also include UW junior and 30th-ranked Brian Leung, begins Friday at 6:25 p.m. (CT).
The Badgers' distance medley relay currently owns a top-12 time, sitting in a tie for seventh at 9:40.18, but the quartet of Mudd, Tyler Woloszyk, Zach Mellon and Alex Hatz will compete with the goal of securing UW's standing.
The DMR will be one of the most closely-watched events at the Loftus Center, with eight of the current top 12 teams in the country scheduled to run. The racing begins at 7 p.m.
Wisconsin's entry in the 4x400 relay, conversely, looks to race its way into the meet. The team of Garret Payne, Woloszyk, Babatunde Awosika and Drew Simmons will run seeking to improve on its season-best mark of 3:10.58. That race concludes the action Saturday at 2:35 p.m.