Lucky No. 13: Near-perfect performance powers Badgers to title


ON WISCONSIN
ON WISCONSIN

ON WISCONSIN

Oct. 30, 2011

2011 Big Ten Championship
University of Illinois Arboretum • Urbana, Ill.
Game Photo
Complete Results  |  Complete Results Get     Acrobat  Reader
• Distance: 8 Kilometers
Flotrack Videos
Race Highlights Small Video Graphic  |  Coach Byrne Interview Small Video Graphic
• Interviews: Ahmed Small Video Graphic  |  Krause Small Video Graphic
• Interviews: Connor Small Video GraphicCollins Small Video Graphic
 Team Results
1. Wisconsin 17
2. Indiana 60
3. Michigan 104
4. Minnesota 104
5. Ohio State 138
6. Penn State 165
7. Illinois 181
8. Michigan State 191
9. Purdue 199
10. Iowa 260
11. Nebraska 277
 Individual Results
1. Mohammed Ahmed WIS 23:18
2. Maverick Darling WIS 23:26
3. Elliot Krause WIS 23:27
4. Hassan Mead MINN 23:29
5. Reed Connor WIS 23:36
6. Ryan Collins WIS 23:36
7. Andrew Poore IND 23:41
8. Craig Forys MICH 23:47
9. Bobby Aprill MICH 23:48
10. Andrew Bayer IND 23:48
39. Michael Brice WIS 24:40
44. Drew Shields WIS 24:46 
58. Jake Erschen WIS 25:14
60. Neal Berman WIS 25:17
 Wisconsin Men's Cross Country Online
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InsideBadgerSports.com Small Video Graphic  |  Photos

Results  |  Results Get     Acrobat  Reader  |  Notes  |  Photo Gallery

URBANA, Ill. -- There was nothing unlucky about the number 13 for Wisconsin on Sunday.

There were no black cats crossing the Badgers' paths on the eve of Halloween, either.

Jinxes never factored in for the No. 2-ranked Wisconsin men's cross country team, which made its own luck with a near-perfect showing at the 2011 Big Ten Championship.

Behind a record-setting individual effort from junior Mohammed Ahmed, the Badgers laid claim to their 13th-consecutive Big Ten title in dominating fashion at the University of Illinois Arboretum.

The Badgers easily distanced themselves from the field by placing five runners in the top six for a team score of 17 points.  Ahmed crossed the line first, setting a Big Ten meet record with his 8-kilometer time of 23 minutes, 18 seconds.

Junior Maverick Darling followed as the runner-up in a time of 23:26, with senior Elliot Krause third in 23:27. Junior Reed Connor and senior Ryan Collins finished fifth and sixth, respectively, with identical times of 23:36.

 Fast Facts
• Wisconsin claims 13th-straight Big Ten team title
• Champion Mohammed Ahmed leads UW's near-perfect finish
• Ahmed, Darling, Krause score third-straight All-Big Ten first team nods

Minnesota senior Hassan Mead was able to break up the Badgers' run at a perfect score by claiming fourth in 23:29.

As it was, UW's score matched the second-best total in meet history. The Badgers' 16-point effort in 2005 stands as the Big Ten record.

As usual, the result was a product of the Badgers' ability to run at the front as a group. Working together instead of focusing on individual performances was an area of emphasis.

"Coach Mick (Byrne) said, if the opportunity was there, go for it, and we had the green light to do that," Ahmed said. "When I made my move, I wasn't really thinking about the individual title, I was just trying to get rid of some of the Indiana runners who were on us, and it worked."

Rounding out the top five of the field was No. 7 Indiana in second with 60 points, No. 21 Michigan in third and No. 12 Minnesota in fourth -- both with 104 points -- and No. 26 Ohio State fifth with 138.

"It is amazing," Ahmed said of the team performance. "We really love each other, and everybody has that brotherhood that you need to be contending. If you have that brotherhood, you have that trust with each other, and we really have that."

Sweeping the top three places, Ahmed, Darling and Krause each earned first-team All-Big Ten honors for the third-consecutive season. Prior to Sunday, only five UW athletes had accomplished the feat of posting three-straight All-Big Ten first team performances.

Connor and Collins also were named to the all-conference first team as top-seven finishers.

Despite the individual accolades and a number of strong individual performances, Darling reiterated that success comes from working together as a team.

"I think we all know we're going to push each other," Darling said. "We know that if we run together as well as we can it's going to be a lot better for each one of us individually."

"I think they enjoy being around each other and enjoy helping each other out," said UW head coach Mick Byrne, who claimed his 21st-consecutive conference title, dating back to his days at Iona College. "If one guy is hurt, they hold off and wait for him to recover and pick up a bit in spirits.

"It's team first, and then individual later. You don't always see that in other teams."

Holding such a long winning streak in at the Big Ten championship, the Badgers pressured themselves to perform at their best and carry on what has become a record-setting dynasty.

"When you have a streak as long as we do, there is pressure coming into a meet like the Big Ten meet," Darling said. "You want to win, and you have to win, because you're a Badger."

"We know we're competing for the University of Wisconsin, and that means you have to compete," Ahmed said. "You can't be mediocre."

Looking far from mediocre in their first test of the championship season, Darling felt some of the pressure the Badgers were feeling leading up to the Big Ten meet is now off. The next challenge is taking care of business through the NCAA championship.

 "We're over that hump, and we're just going to ride the hill down," Darling said. "Obviously, we're looking forward to Nov. 21, but we still have to get through regionals. We still have 21 days, so we have to take care of the little things."

The Badgers will have a couple weeks to prepare for the 2011 NCAA Great Lakes Regional, which will be held in Toledo, Ohio, on Nov. 12.

Now in the thick of championship competition, Byrne feels positive about where his team is now -- and where it is headed.

"I think we're in a good spot right now," Byrne said. "The guys are extremely excited. We always talk about `Big Tens and beyond.'

"The beyond is here now."

ON WISCONSIN
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