April 17, 2014
MADISON, Wis. – The No. 6-ranked Wisconsin men’s track and field team will once again divide its resources this weekend, a common theme this season, by competing in three different meets.
The Badgers will send athletes to the 44th-annual Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, Calif., and the Long Beach Invitational at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif.
As championship season nears, the team’s focus narrows to the Big Ten meet and qualifying for the NCAA regional. Zach Ziemek accomplished that goal last weekend, finishing third in the decathlon in Georgia with a personal-best score of 7,860 points, the third-highest mark in the country among collegiate athletes.
At the ultra-competitive Mt. SAC Relays, hosted by Mt. San Antonio College at the Historic Hilmer Lodge Stadium, the Badgers will unleash some of their most experienced athletes.
Senior Reed Connor will make his outdoor debut in the invitational section of the 5000 meters Friday at 10:35 p.m. (CT). Connor is a two-time first-team All-American in the event, placing eighth at the 2014 indoor meet and sixth outdoors in 2013. Sophomore Malachy Schrobilgen, who finished third in the 5000 and seventh in the 3000 at this year’s Big Ten indoor meet, will run alongside Connor.
In addition, senior Alex Brill will race in an individual event for the first time in 2014 by competing in Olympic division of the 5000 (10:03 p.m.), while junior Alex Hatz is scheduled for the invitational section of the 1500 (8:50 p.m.).
“It’s a loaded, national-caliber race with pros and college kids,” Wisconsin Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Mick Byrne said. “Our big guns are starting to get out there now and are positioning themselves for NCAA regional qualifiers. That’s what we expect from them. After this weekend, most of our guys will be in a situation where we’ll know exactly who’s going to regionals, and that’s important.”
The field events will be highlighted by Japheth Cato and Zach Ziemek. Cato will compete in the long jump and the invitational section of the pole vault, while Ziemek is scheduled for the open pole vault. Collin Taylor will compete in the high jump and Ben Schreib will participate in the javelin.
With all three competitions located in California, many athletes will compete both Friday and Saturday at separate meets.
After competing in the 1500 on Friday, Mudd and Hatz will likely race in the invitational section of the 800 at the Long Beach Invitational on Saturday. Ziemek will also serve double-duty, as the junior is scheduled for the discus and pole vault.
Charlie Foss will be a busy man this weekend as he continues to work on events he will see in the decathlon. The sophomore is scheduled for the 110 hurdles, pole vault and high jump Friday at the Bryan Clay Invitational and the 110 hurdles, long jump and discus at the Long Beach Invite on Saturday.
As long as Wisconsin improves each and every week, Byrne has no doubt his team will be ready when the stakes are highest.
“I think we’re right where we want to be right now,” Byrne said. “We always say if we’re getting better from one week to the next, then it’s good as we head into championship season. Now the next couple of weeks are crucial. Obviously the meets start kicking into another gear, another level.
“If we keep everybody healthy, we’re going to go to the Big Tens in a good position. It’s always about going in there and fighting for that title. That’s why our athletes come here, that’s what we believe in the coaching staff. It kick starts the rest of the championship season.”