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Badger tough: UW places fourth at Wisconsin adidas Invitational

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2013 Wisconsin adidas Invitational
Zimmer Championship Course • Madison, Wis. • Distance: 8 Kilometers

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 Team Results
1. Northern Arizona 121
2. BYU 174
3. Portland 216
4. Wisconsin 217
5. New Mexico 251
 Individual Results
1. Kemoy Campbell Arkansas 23:12
2. Maksim Korolev Harvard 23:14
3. Andrew Colley NC State 23:16
4. Aaron Nelson Washington 23:26
5. Soufiane Bouchikhi E. Kentucky 23:27
20. Malachy Schrobilgen Wisconsin 23:38
21. Michael Van Voorhis Wisconsin 23:39
46. Alex Brill Wisconsin 23:59
58. Alex Hatz Wisconsin 24:05
72. Jacob Naylor Wisconsin 24:11
115. Rob Finnerty Wisconsin 24:26
207. Drew Shields Wisconsin 25:09
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Oct. 19, 2013

MADISON, Wis. -- Don't ever underestimate the heart of a Badger.

"I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I said that on Monday," said Wisconsin head coach Mick Byrne, referring to his press conference earlier this week. "Our guys showed you what that means out there today."

Indeed, the No. 20-ranked Wisconsin men's cross country team ran with toughness on Saturday, earning an impressive fourth-place finish with a team score of 217 points at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational at the Zimmer Championship Course.

Redshirt freshman Malachy Schrobilgen and junior Michael Van Voorhis led the way for the Badgers in one of the nation's most competitive races of the pre-championship season, featuring 19 of the top 30 teams ranked in the latest USTFCCCA poll, including five top-10 teams.

 Fast Facts
• UW finishes fourth overall with team score of 217
Malachy Schrobilgen leads UW, finishing 20th overall
• Arkansas' Kemoy Campbell wins individual title in 23:12

Schrobilgen finished the 8-kilometer course 20th overall in 23 minutes, 38 seconds, while Van Voorhis crossed the line 21st a second later in 23:39. Remarkably, both athletes set new personal records by over 40 seconds.

"We wanted to get out, we wanted to have fun with it," Schrobilgen said. "This is a huge meet, it is a national-caliber meet. It doesn't get much better than this, on your home course. Everyone stepped up and ran how we knew we were capable of running. Everyone did what they knew they could do and that is what is important. We just have to keep doing that over the next couple weeks heading into championship season."

Van Voorhis picked up right where he left off three weeks ago at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown, where he earned a top-10 finish and was named the Big Ten Runner of the Week on Oct. 1. His effort on Saturday was not lost on Schrobilgen, who finished second for UW and 12th overall at the same race in Boston.

"He really pulled me along in that race," Schrobilgen said. "I didn't get off to the start that I wanted to, but him running as well as he did, that really made a difference."

Senior Alex Brill finished 46th overall with a time of 23:59, while junior Alex Hatz placed 58th in 24:05. Senior Jacob Naylor was the fifth Badger to complete the race, crossing the finish line 72nd in 24:11.

With its fourth-place performance, Wisconsin dramatically improved from last year's adidas meet in which it finished 17th overall.

Northern Arizona claimed the meet title with a score of 121 points. BYU was second with 174 points, while Portland (216 points) finished third and New Mexico (251) placed fifth to round out the top five.

Arkansas senior Kemoy Campbell claimed the individual crown in 23:12, besting his 16th-place finish from a year ago. Arizona senior Lawi Lalang, the two-time defending adidas invite champion who owns the meet record time of 23:02, finished 13th overall in 23:35.

Byrne was extremely proud of the way his team competed against such a competitive field. But unlike many of those who doubted whether Wisconsin could maintain its dominance after losing three All-Americans from a year ago, Byrne knew his team would surprise people.

"Everybody, all the pundits had us written off, that we suck," Byrne said. "But what my guys out there today showed us is that they have heart, they got guts, and that wearing that uniform means something. Having that Wisconsin on their chest means something."

"Everyone in the world has been down on us this year," Schrobilgen said. "But the important thing is that nobody in our locker room has been doubting us. We came up, we did what we knew we could do."

"They did a fantastic job," Byrne said. "They were under a lot of pressure from me, from internal pressure, pressure from the media, the social networks, and they ran like true Badgers out there. That is all any coach can ask. How it plays out at the end, you can't control that once the gun goes off, but every single one of these guys did what we asked of them today and that was to get out and just run tough."

A trio of seniors rounded out the top eight for Wisconsin, as Rob Finnerty finished 115th (24:26), Drew Shields placed 207th (25:09), and Neal Berman was 226th (25:12).

Of the eight athletes who ran in the cardinal and white, seven of them set new personal records. Byrne calls that running "Badger tough."

Despite the fourth-place finish, Wisconsin knows it needs to improve heading into the Big Ten and NCAA championships. But they can, however, use the adidas invite as a confidence builder, and will attempt to prove their doubters wrong once again.

"You just have to build off it," Schrobilgen said. "This is just one step in the process. Everything after this is what really counts. This is a nice race, this is a good way to kind of turn into championship season, but this race really doesn't matter. It is the ones that come two weeks down the road and three weeks after that."

In Saturday's "B" race, the Wisconsin freshmen were given a chance to compete unattached. Ryan Kromer was the first Badger to cross the finish line, placing 11th in 24:43. Nate Sullivan finished 16th (24:59), while Carl Hirsch finished 21st (25:12).

Michael Christianson placed 43rd in 26:02 and Malcolm Plunkett finished 46th in 26:14. In addition, sophomore Sam Hacker competed in a Wisconsin uniform and placed 19th (25:06).

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