July 1, 2013
Over the course of two weeks, UW Athletics will look back on the Badgers' biggest team and individual accomplishments during the 2012-13 season.
MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin men's cross country team didn't cover any new ground in 2012, but that's exactly what made the Badgers' season so impressive.
The Badgers made history by simply covering the same old ground faster than just about everyone -- yet again.
Wisconsin extended its dominance in the Big Ten by winning a conference-record 14th-consecutive championship and then went on to extend another record streak by claiming its 11th-straight NCAA Great Lakes Regional title. Yet another streak lived on when the Badgers scored a top-three finish at the NCAA championship for the third-consecutive year.
Three runners earned All-America honors to power the Badgers to a runner-up finish at the 2012 NCAA Championship in Louisville, Ky., with the senior trio of Mohammed Ahmed, Reed Connor and Maverick Darling recorded top-12 finishes.
On the heels of UW's national championship in 2011, Ahmed led UW by finishing eighth in 29 minutes, 23 seconds. Darling finished 11th in 29:30 and Connor was right behind in 12th at 29:31 to propel the Badgers to its fourth podium finish in head coach Mick Byrne's five seasons at the helm of the program.
"I couldn't have asked for anything better," Byrne said. "They went out to defend a national title. They went out to fight and that is exactly what they did. By no means are we disappointed. We made Oklahoma State earn their team title. I am proud of my guys."
Wisconsin claimed its 11th-consecutive Great Lakes Regional crown on its own Thomas Zimmer Championship Course, winning the 10-kilometer event with a team score of 43 points behind Ahmed's individual title in 30:37. The Badgers have won a record 28 NCAA Great Lakes Regional championships since the regional system began in 1972.
UW secured its 14th-straight Big Ten title in East Lansing, Mich., as four runners placed in the top seven.
Four first-team All-Big Ten performances set the stage, with Darling finishing second in 23:35, Ahmed third in 23:36, Connor sixth in 23:47 and senior Rob Finnerty seventh clocking in 24:02. Byrne was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the fifth-straight season.
"My freshman year, when I redshirted, the seniors that were on their way out said that no one wants to be on the team that loses the Big Ten streak," Darling said. "We understand what that means. It's just phenomenal to know you're part of such a strong program."
Wisconsin's run of 14 straight crowns is the longest in conference history, extending a streak that began in 1999. It is also the fourth-longest title streak in Big Ten history in any sport, trailing only Iowa wrestling (25 straight), Indiana men's swimming and diving (20), and Michigan men's tennis (16).