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Nuttycombe meets media to preview NCAA indoor championships

<b>Badgers coach Ed Nuttycombe previewed the NCAA indoor championships Monday at UW Athletics' weekly news conference.</b>

Badgers coach Ed Nuttycombe previewed the NCAA indoor championships Monday at UW Athletics' weekly news conference.

March 4, 2013

Watch Nuttycombe News Conference Small Video Graphic

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's track and field head coach Ed Nuttycombe met with the media Monday to discuss the No. 4 Badgers' preparations for the 2013 NCAA 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.

MODERATOR: After winning the Big Ten indoor track and field title in dramatic fashion, the men's track and field team sends seven athletes to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday and Saturday.

Three athletes, Austin Mudd, Maverick Darling and Japheth Cato, each qualified in multiple events. Cato was the runner up last year in the heptathlon while Mudd is the only collegian to run a sub four minute mile twice this year. Big Ten and Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year Ed Nuttycombe is here. He'll have opening comments and take questions.

NUTTYCOMBE: Thank you. It's great to have the quality of athletes we have going to the national championships this coming week. We have to make a couple of decisions as to how far    how much to challenge them as far as how many events they do, Austin and Cato. They only take 16 per event. So anyone there can place. Anyone there can be an All American. Anyone there can do quite well. We're very excited.

Last week we were ranked fourth. The rankings don't come out until tomorrow, so I don't know whether we'll stay there or fall. We're just glad to be in the discussion of the elite teams at the NCAA level.

QUESTION: Ed, do you feel the same way about this team that you did about the one in '07 in terms of its potential for winning a national championship?

NUTTYCOMBE: I'd feel a lot better if I had Chris Solinsky on our roster. I'm not quite sure this team is of that caliber. It is a very, very good team, but it's    it's not quite the same. Like I said before, we're just glad to be in that discussion.

Having Chris Solinsky and Joe Detmer and some athletes like that made that team pretty elite.

QUESTION: You guys are ranked fourth. What are the three teams ahead of you in terms of the    is there a large gap between the three teams ahead of you, or I guess how tight are all of you guys there in the top four?

NUTTYCOMBE: In looking at it, I think the top two teams have kind of separated themselves from the other teams, Arkansas and University of Florida. After that, I think it's Texas A&M and then Wisconsin.

When you get into that area, there's very little difference between, say, being fourth and being seventh or eighth. Sometimes it's one athlete doing great or not quite doing what you hope. So it's a fine line there.

I think the top two teams going in are Florida and Arkansas. Of course, Arkansas is at home. That's always a little bit of an advantage. We'll go, and we'll do the best we can and see what happens. It's great to be able to take this number of athletes in the number of events that we are.

As the saying goes, you can't score if you are not in the competition.

QUESTION: Ed, will Cato and Darling and Mudd compete in all the events that they're eligible for?  Sometimes you just go with one as opposed to doing multiple events. Will they compete on all of them?

NUTTYCOMBE: I'm pretty sure we're going to long jump Cato and do the heptathlon, of course. Mudd, on the other hand, the 800/mile double is awful, awful tough.

We do actually have a very small chance of having our distance medley relay team. They take 12, and we're 13th by two-tenths of a second. It's not like they're going to add another, but if one of the other teams decides they're not going to compete, we move into being eligible.

The 800/mile is tough. We'll probably make a decision and go with one of the two of those.

QUESTION: Is Cato primed to win the national championship this year after last year's results?

NUTTYCOMBE: He's ranked second, and the individual right behind him is a young man from Arkansas who's awfully good. I think there's three or four athletes that are of his caliber.

The one thing I can say is he was leading going into the last event and ran what was his personal best in the 1000 (meters) but was beaten by a young man who actually broke the world record in order to beat him. He's much better prepared this year in the 1000 because he's not going to let that happen.

So hopefully, we put ourselves in a position where, when we get to the 1000, we can run what's necessary.You say there's seven places to excel and seven places to have a little misstep. He's been very consistent, and I think he's very ready to go. We're just going to go and see what happens.

QUESTION: Ed, in the case of Mudd, the 800 and the mile, is one event better suited for him?  Will the decision come down to what's better for the team or what gives you guys a better chance of winning this?

NUTTYCOMBE: It's a good question. I think it boils down to which he has the most confidence in and which we, as coaching staff, see as the best opportunity to help the team. We've had that discussion, and we're going to have to make that decision today. The final entries are due today.

We'll listen to what he has to say because that's very important in the decision making process.

QUESTION: Quietly going unnoticed is Danny Block. How much has he improved?

NUTTYCOMBE: Improved tremendously. I think he's ranked eighth or ninth going in, but the difference between being, say, ninth and being fifth is just inches. Dramatically improved.

I think another name that's gone unmentioned -- we've got the four distance runners that people might expect to be there -- but very pleasant surprise and a young development is Zach Ziemek, Cato's companion in the heptathlon, and ranked sixth as a sophomore, that's pretty incredible.

But Danny is primed and ready to go, very excited. Zach, we've talked about just going out and having fun and competing. He's a great competitor. We've got some young talent that we're looking forward to even beyond this weekend.

QUESTION: Distance running right now in the NCAA is probably about as deep as it's ever been. What does it say for you to have three guys ranked in the top 10 in the 5000 going into the meet?

NUTTYCOMBE: Coach (Mick) Byrne does a great job preparing those guys. I think it says a lot. You cannot qualify anymore to the NCAA championship unless you run well under a four minute mile. That's mind boggling when you think of it in those terms. And the longer (races), 3000, 5000, are equally as tough.

Many of those times in the NCAA, we'd be ranked very high on the world rankings indoors. To have three there gives us three shots. It's nice to be able to run as a pack and have your teammates there, but Mick's done a great job of preparing those guys as he did in the fall, where, of course, he had them ready to finish runner up at the NCAA championships.

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