June 12, 2013
As part of its year-end look back, UW Athletics profiles 10 candidates this week leading up to the announcement of the 2012-13 Athlete of the Year awards this Friday. Today, we profile Athlete of the Year candidate Maverick Darling of the men's cross country and track and field teams.
MADISON, Wis. -- At the college level, few athletes have as many opportunities to compete for championships as distance runners. But few maximize those opportunities as well as Maverick Darling did in his final season with the Badgers.
A key factor in the Badgers’ runner-up finish in the John McDonnell Program of the Year standings, Darling was instrumental in Wisconsin’s conference titles and national podium finishes in both cross country and indoor track and field.
Individually, Darling claimed Big Ten titles both indoors and outdoors on the track and finished as the conference runner-up in cross country. He was a first-team All-American in all three seasons.
He became the third Badger and seventh runner in conference history to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors four times when he led UW with a runner-up finish in cross country. His finished helped Wisconsin secure a league-record 14th-consecutive Big Ten title.
Darling then aided the Badgers’ effort as they secured a record 11th-straight NCAA Great Lakes Regional title on their own Thomas Zimmer Championship Course. He went on to finish 11th individually at the 2012 NCAA Championship to earn first-team All-America honors for the second time and power UW to a runner-up team finish on the heels of its 2011 national title.
When the season shifted indoors, Darling helped UW secure another Big Ten title on the track by winning the first individual conference crown of his career with a dominant performance in the 3000 meters before doubling back to add a third-place finish in the 5000 meters.
Named Great Lakes Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year for the indoor season by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, Darling went on to secure All-America honors with his fourth-place finish in the 5000 at the NCAA championships. That performance was one of six All-America efforts for the Badgers, who claimed third place as a team and scored UW’s third podium finish in eight years at the NCAA indoor meet.
Darling added another impressive Big Ten performance outdoors by running away with the conference crown in the 10,000 meters in May. That came on the heels of his run of 13:30.40 in the 5000 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in April, the third-fastest time in UW history.
An NCAA West Preliminary Round qualifier in both the 5000 and 10,000 meters, Darling elected to run the 5000 on the national stage. After advancing through the preliminary round site, Darling returned to the NCAA outdoor championships and once again secured All-America honors with another fourth-place finish in the 5000 meters.
Darling was the highest-finishing U.S.-born athlete at the NCAA cross country championship and in both the NCAA indoor and outdoor 5000 meters.
Though his final collegiate season has come to a close, Darling is expected to race in the 5000 meters at next week’s 2013 USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.