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MADISON, Wis. - The No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Wisconsin men's cross country team opened its 2012 season with a victory in the 6.3-kilometer Badger Opener at Zimmer Championship course on Friday.
The Badgers finished with a team score of 19 points, grabbing five of the top six spots.
Junior Alex Brill led UW, claiming the individual title with a time of 18 minutes and 50 seconds.
"Every meet you run is a confidence builder," Brill said. "That is half the battle in cross country, having the confidence going into the race and really going out there and competing with your teammates."
The junior looks to build off Friday's victory and earn a prominent role on the team. "My goal right now is to get in the top five, score for the Badgers and try to go for that national championship," Brill said.
"Alex Brill looked pretty good," head coach Mick Byrne said. "He looked like he was in control the whole race. He is certainly a guy that we are going to be looking to help us out down the road."
Overall, the Badgers took 7 of the first 9 places as junior Neal Berman finished third with a time of 18 minutes and 53 seconds, freshman Sam Hacker took fourth at 19 minutes flat, senior Rob Finnerty placed fifth at 19 minutes and 1 second and sophomore Mike Vanvoorhis rounded out the scoring for UW in sixth at 19 minutes and 5 seconds.
Wisconsin sophomore Jake Erschen came in just behind Vanvoorhis, placing seventh at 19 minutes and 12 seconds, while freshman Jack Stapleton was a few steps later in ninth at 19 minutes and 22 seconds.
Byrne was pleased with how many of his less experienced runners performed after a grueling training camp left many with tired legs.
"Coming off a pretty intense two weeks of training, guys have a lot of miles in their legs," Byrne said. "We wanted to just get out and get some of our younger guys some experience and get out there and start competing. The overall goal was to find some younger guys who are ready to move up and help out the team when we need them later this year."
Central Michigan earned a second-place finish with 43 team points behind sophomore Kyle Stacks finished who placed second overall with a time of 18 minutes and 52 seconds. Edgewood College and the Wisconsin Track Club tied for third with 98 team points.
The men's cross country team races again next Saturday, September 15 at the Stony Brook Invitational in Stony Brook, N.Y.
"Every single week, every single race, every single workout you look to see that you are a little bit better than the week before," Byrne said. "Hopefully we can say that four, five, six weeks down the road."