June 10, 2014
EUGENE, Ore.-- Five familiar faces will lead the No. 16 Wisconsin men's track and field team into battle this weekend at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field.
The quintet of Mohammed Ahmed, Danny Block, Alex Brill, Michael Lihrman and Zach Ziemek all have competed at an NCAA championship event during their careers, with the group combining for one NCAA title and nine first-team All-America honors.
The four-day meet, which stretches from Wednesday to Saturday, features the top 24 competitors from across the nation in each of 21 events.
Ahmed is the lone Badger to compete in two events, as the senior will race in the 10,000 meters at 9:15 p.m. (CT) Wednesday and run in the 5000 meters at 8:10 p.m. Friday. The St. Catharines, Ontario, native earned first-team All-America honors in the 10,000 in 2010 and then claimed first-team All-America accolades in the 5000 in 2012.
Earlier this year, Ahmed became only the fourth Badger in program history to break the 13:30 mark in the 5000 meters, as the senior finished 14th and second among collegians at the Payton Jordan Invitational in a personal-best time of 13 minutes, 28.02 seconds.
Ahmed has a season-best time of 29:06.50 in the 10,000 meters, set at the Big Ten championships, but he also holds the Big Ten record at 27:34.64. A 2012 Olympian, Ahmed finished ninth in the 10,000 meters at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in 27:35.76.
Ahmed is one of six athletes at the NCAA meet to double in both the 5000 and 10,000 meters, and it marks the third time in his UW career that Ahmed will run both events at the same meet.
Ziemek will make his second NCAA appearance in the decathlon, which kicks off the meet on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. The junior achieved a then-personal-best first-day score of 4,112 at last year's NCAA meet, but was forced to withdraw from the competition on the second day due to a leg injury.
He enters this year's meet with the nation's fourth-best decathlon score at 7,860 points, which he set at Georgia's Bulldog Decathlon in April. The two-time Big Ten champion scored 7,659 points at the Big Ten outdoor meet despite battling cold and rainy conditions during the competition.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11
1:30 p.m. - Decathlon (Day 1)
• Zach Ziemek
9:15 p.m. - 10,000 Meters (Final)
• Mohammed Ahmed
THURSDAY, JUNE 12
1 p.m. - Decathlon (Day 2)
• Zach Ziemek
3:30 p.m. - Hammer Throw (Final)
• Michael Lihrman
7:35 p.m. - 3000 Steeplechase (Semifinal)
• Alex Brill
FRIDAY, JUNE 13
6 p.m. - Discus (Final)
• Danny Block
8:10 p.m. - 5000 Meters (Final)
• Mohammed Ahmed
SATURDAY, JUNE 14
3:57 p.m. - 3000 Steeplechase (Final)*
• Alex Brill
* If qualified through previous round
All times Central
Indoors, Ziemek earned first-team All-America honors in the heptathlon, marking the second-straight year that "Double Z" earned a podium in the event at the NCAA indoor championships.
Thursday will prove to be a busy day for the Badgers, as junior Michael Lihrman and senior Alex Brill will compete along with Ziemek.
Lihrman, the Big Ten record-holder in the hammer throw, enters the meet as the No. 6 seed after an effort of 223 feet at the NCAA West Preliminary Round two weeks ago. The Rice Lake, Wisconsin, native set the Big Ten record earlier this year with a throw of 233-1 at the Wisconsin Open.
This marks the first NCAA outdoor meet that Lihrman will compete in for Wisconsin, but the junior had a successful NCAA indoor debut by winning the national title in the weight throw. Lihrman has finished in the top three in every event he has competed in this season and has only lost to a collegiate competitor twice all season.
Brill is no stranger to the NCAA stage, as he will make his third appearance in the 3000 steeplechase at the NCAA outdoor championships. The senior looks to end his Wisconsin career on a high note after earning second-team All-America honors last year and an honorable mention nod as a freshman.
Brill has a season-best time of 8:47.32, which he ran at the Payton Jordan Invitational, but he holds the 10th-best time in program history at 8:37.62, which he ran as a sophomore at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
Fellow senior Danny Block also looks to close out his Wisconsin career in style, as Block will compete on Friday at 6 p.m. in the discus. Block, who has battled a foot injury all season, came close to qualifying in the shot put as well, as he placed 13th at the NCAA West Preliminary Round to fall one place shy of advancing to Eugene.
It marks the third straight year that Block -- who has a season-best mark of 191-3 -- will compete in the NCAA outdoor championships, and the second time in his career that he will throw the discus at the national championships. He finished 12th at the 2012 NCAA meet to claim second-team All-America honors.