March 9, 2012
NAMPA, Idaho -- Wisconsin sends six athletes from its No. 22-ranked men's track and field team to Nampa, Idaho, this weekend for the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships.
The national meet takes place at the Jacksons Indoor Track on Friday and Saturday, with Badgers set to compete in the distance medley relay and the heptathlon.
Junior Zach Mellon, freshmen Aaron Thompson and Austin Mudd and sophomore Alex Hatz team up to run in the distance medley relay for the second time this season. The four debuted as a unit last weekend at the Alex Wilson Invitational, running to the second-fastest time in UW history and automatically qualifying for the NCAAs with a time of 9 minutes, 30.86 seconds.
For Mellon, the appearance will mark his third-consecutive NCAA meet after qualifying the past two seasons in the 800 meters. Thomspon, Mudd and Hatz will all be making their first trip to the national championships.
UW's distance medley relay team ranks sixth in the nation with their record time set last weekend, and look to carry the momentum forward to compete with the nation's best.
Defending champion and top-seeded BYU comes into the meet having qualified with its time of 9:29.00. Ranking No. 2 in the nation with a time of 9:29.12, Big Ten rival Indiana will also be in the mix, having finished runner-up last season. Texas A&M is the three seed with their automatic qualifying run of 9:29.71.
In the heptathlon, experience could play a big role in how Japheth Cato and David Grzesiak compete.
Cato enters the indoor championships for a second-consecutive season, ranked No. 3 in the nation with his Big Ten record 5,939-point total. The sophomore looks to improve on last year's second-team All-America performance at the NCAA championships, in which he recorded a total of 5,436 points and finished 15th.
In addition to Cato, seven members of last year's championship field of 15 will also be returning to compete for another NCAA title, including Florida's Gray Horn. Ranked No. 2 in the nation this season with his point total of 5,971, Horn will be looking to top his fourth-place finish from last season.
A newcomer to the NCAAs, Arkansas freshman Gunnar Nixon sits atop the standings, No. 1 nationally with his total of 6,022 points, and also figures to be big competition for Cato.
With his 5,677-point total recorded in the event earlier this season, David Grzesiak also qualified for the NCAAs as the No. 16 seed. But, don't count the senior out because of his standings, as he displayed he's capable of climbing leader boards.
Two weekends ago, Grzesiak competed in the heptathlon at the Big Ten championships and was sitting in 11th place with his first-day total of 2,982 points. Fueled by a personal-best time of 2 minutes, 38.50 seconds in the 1000 meters, Grzesiak climbed his way up the leaderboard to take fifth and finish with 5,581 points.