April 29, 2010
Men's Meet Notes | Women's Meet Notes
MADISON, Wis. -- Distance runners from the Wisconsin men's and women's track and field teams find themselves on a big stage this weekend for their final dress rehersal before the upcoming Big Ten Conference outdoor championships.
With the conference meet just two weeks away, the Badgers will send a number of athletes Saturday to Palo Alto, Calif., for Stanford's annual Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational, an event that has become one of the nation's top distance running events.
At last year's meet, then-juniors Jack Bolas and Craig Miller ran two of the nation's top-five times in the 1,500 meters at 3:37.64 and 3:37.81, respectively.
The Badgers also will send a large group of athletes, namely sprinters, jumpers and throwers, to compete in the Musco Twilight Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa. The meet returns after a one-year hiatus due to extreme flooding in 2008 that forced a resurfacing project and left the meet without a home in 2009.
The event will give the Badgers a look at the eight-lane, 400-meter track and its new Martin surface, which is scheduled to host the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
Big Ten rivals Iowa and Minnesota also will compete this weekend, with Drake and Northern Iowa filling out the field.
Big Ten Network will produce a tape-delay broadcast of the meet, with Steve Schlanger and Molly Sullivan on the call. The broadcast is scheduled to air on BTN at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 16.
Last year, Bolas and Miller both clocked in below the 3:38 mark in the 1,500 meters at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational. While Miller carried a heavy load at last week’s Drake Relays – including anchoring the Badgers to a win in the distance medley relay, Bolas will make his season debut this weekend.
This weekend, senior Ryan Gasper will make his season debut in 3,000-meter steeplechase. He is the two-time defending Big Ten champion in the event.
Also making his season debut in his preferred event is junior Zach Beth, who will run his first 800 meters of the year after helping the Badgers to the DMR title at Drake in his outdoor debut last week.
Blog: A full look at this weekend's men's lineups
Out of the Blocks
Over the weekend, the Badgers claimed a Drake Relays title in the distance medley relay and also scored top-three finishes in the 4x200-meter relay, sprint medley relay and 4x1600-meter relay.
The Badgers also sent a number of competitors to compete in an alternative meet at UW-Whitewater.
The foursome of senior Ryan Gasper, senior James Groce, junior Zach Beth and senior Craig Miller were the stars of the Drake Relays for Wisconsin. The quartet ran a school-record time of 9:32.84 to claim the win in the Jim Wheelock Distance Medley Relay, with their mark ranking as the second-fastest DMR time in the nation this year.
The mark — which gave the Badgers their first DMR title at Drake since 1949 — nipped the previous school record of 9:32.97 recorded at the 1984 Penn Relays. It also ranks No. 2 nationally this year behind the winning time of 9:30.69 recorded by Oregon at the Penn Relays on Saturday.
The quartet of freshman Gavin Robertson (200 meters), junior Kyle Jefferson (200 meters), Groce (400 meters) and junior Luke Rucks (800 meters) clocked the sixth-fastest time in school history in the sprint medley relay, and the Badgers’ best since 1982, with their third-place time of 3:19.09.
That performance came on the heels of Friday’s runner-up finish in the 4x200-meter relay in 1:24.48.
Three-fourths of the squad that set a school record in the event three weeks ago at the Florida Relays hit the track again at Drake, with sophomore Grant Bughman joining record-holders Robertson, Jefferson and Groce.
Despite a 4:01 anchor carry by senior Craig Miller, the Badgers settled for a third-place finish in the men’s 4x1600-meter relay Friday afternoon. Miller’s anchor helped the Badgers clock in at 16:29.57, the sixth-fastest time in school history and the best mark by a Badgers team since 1982.
Redshirt freshman Caitlin Comfort will lead the Badger women’s distance squad into competition at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.
Two weeks ago, Comfort finished runner-up in the 5,000 meters with a personal-best time of 16:32.95 at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.
In Iowa City, Wisconsin looks to continue its string of solid performances in the 4x400-meter relay. Three of the 10 best 4x400-meter relay marks in UW history have been recorded in the past month.
Blog: A full look at this weekend's women's lineups
Out of the Blocks
The Badgers clocked the fastest 4x400-meter relay time by a UW quartet since 1992 on Saturday at Drake, with the foursome of Jameice DeCoster, Jenna Severson, Brittney Harper and Egle Staisiunaite clocking a time of 3:44.53 in the prelims at the Drake Relays.
It ranks as the sixth-fastest mark all-time at UW and means four of the 10 best marks in history have come in the past two years — including three in the last month.
The Badgers also ran the third-fastest sprint medley in school history at 3:56.16. That clocking, from the foursome of freshman DeCoster, senior Alexis Beecham, Harper and senior Amanda Donath, was good for a 10th-place finish.
UW's 4x100-meter shuttle hurdle relay team took a fourth-place finish in the event, as the quartet of sophomore Jessica Flax, senior Jenny Soceka, freshman Dorcas Akinniyi and Staisiunaite ran a school-record time of 56.77.
Saturday's runs -- the prelims and the final -- represented just the third and fourth shuttle hurdle races in school history. Before they ran at the Florida Relays on April 3, Wisconsin's only previous run in the event was at the 2008 Sea Ray Relays.
Just 40 minutes anchoring the Badgers' effort in the relay, Staisiunaite returned to the track to run the 400-meter hurdles. She responded with an effort of 59.89 to finish 10th and clock the second sub-1:00 run of her career.
Sophomore teammate Jenna Severson was strong, too, running a personal-best 1:00.65 to finish 16th.
Senior LaQuita Brazil had the top mark in her flight of the triple jump with her lifetime-best effort of 40 feet, 7 3/4 inches. The performance moved her up to No. 8 on the Badgers' all-time list in the event.