Oct. 9, 2012
Byrne News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's cross country coach Mick Byrne looked ahead to Friday's fourth-annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational during Wisconsin Athletcs' weekly news conference Monday.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Byrne's remarks can be found below.
MODERATOR: The women's race begins at noon on Friday, while the men's race starts at 12:45. The (UW) women's team is ranked 29th in the country and will run the 6K race against 49 other schools, including 20 of the top 30 teams in the most recent coaches poll. The race features six top 10 teams, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Washington, No. 5 Iowa State, No. 7 Stanford, No. 9 Cornell, and No. 10 Michigan State. On the men's side, the Badgers are ranked No. 1 in the country and will race the 8K race against 46 other schools, including 19 of the top 30 teams in the poll.
The Badgers race, including them, includes five other top-10 teams. Media wishing to cover the event should contact Brian Mason in our office. There's limited parking available for the media. So the sooner you make him aware of your plans, the better.
Men's head coach Mick Byrne is here. We'll have opening comments and then take questions.
BYRNE: We've had three meets so far in September, and we're very excited about the fact that September is now past, and those meets in September gave us great opportunities to evaluate some of our younger athletes, see where they're at.
As I said, now we're into October and heading towards the adidas meet this weekend and into the championship part of the season.
As Brian said, it's fantastic to see the number of teams that are coming here this weekend on the men's side. We're going to have our hands full with Oklahoma, Iona, my former school, and a bunch of other top 10 teams. I mean we've got five or six teams that ranked in the top 10. We're excited about that. It kind of kicks things up a notch or two, and our athletes are looking forward to that.
I think on the women's side the coach (Jim) Stintzi would say the same. His women have had a great September, competing in three meets, did real well, and they're excited about what October has to offer.
QUESTION: Mick, you talked about getting a good look at the youngsters. Alex Brill is one of them. He seems to be rounding into form pretty well.
BYRNE: Yeah, for a guy that won the Badger Opener way back beginning of September, he seems to be getting a lot of press these days, on the front of (Faces in the Crowd) in Sports Illustrated and getting ribbing from all the guys on the team for winning the Badger Opener and getting all this publicity.
Certainly, if we're going to challenge for a podium spot later on at the national championships, we're going to need Alex Brill to step up. All indications right now are that things are going well for him. Hopefully, he'll have a good run on Friday. Competing in the level of meets that we ran in now in September, completely different now. Now we're on the national stage. A lot of teams coming in here for several different reasons to get points, at large points, but also to run on a great course.
Now Alex is on the big stage. So we're certainly looking for him to step up on Friday.
QUESTION: For all the young guys, you still have big names on your roster too. Can you talk about how those big names lead the younger guys?
BYRNE: I mean, obviously, the younger guys respect what they've done over the years. A lot of what we do, we talk about the mental aspect of preparing for a meet like Friday, preparing for a meet like the Big Ten and beyond that. And big guys, the younger guys see the approach, the mental approach that the older guys have. We don't get out there and talk about it every minute of the day. It's something that kind of runs off those older guys.
They realize that they came here to do that. A lot of those guys competed at a very high level in high school. So the younger guys look up to them and kind of learn from them.
QUESTION: What's your approach to the meet this Friday?
BYRNE: It's kind of a laissez faire, don't take it too seriously, don't put too much pressure on yourself. I mean, here we are going into this meet on Friday and a lot of great teams coming in. But in terms of what we're looking to do for the rest of the season, it's just the meet on Oct. 12. I have that approach. Top athletes have that approach.
Monday morning we wake up, and we're still going to continue with our training plan. We're going to continue along the same path that we have for the last couple of years. Irrespective of the result on Friday. For us, again, we have the same `Big Ten and beyond' (approach) to everything that we do.
In our training, talking, mental approach all has to do with later on in the season.
QUESTION: Mick, Mohammed (Ahmed) and Reed (Connor) and Maverick (Darling) have yet to run this season. Will we see them this weekend or the following meet or the following meet?
BYRNE: To be decided at this stage. A lot of what's going to happen here with Mohammed has to do with so far he's training every day, coming along great.
When you look back and you see how long his season was last year, extending all the way through the Olympic Games, now that we've stepped up our game in terms of our workouts, it's just how does he recover from these tougher workouts? He came through September really well. He's in great shape. It's just a matter of is he ready to go, both physically and mentally?
Right now he's definitely not running on Friday. So you can throw that one out there. Maverick is definitely running, and we're going to hold off until Friday on Reed. Both guys want to run, but in terms of, if one of them redshirts, it only makes sense to redshirt (the other). For example, if Mohammed redshirts, it only makes sense for us to redshirt Reed. So a lot of what happens over the next couple of weeks is going to depend on how Mohammed responds to workouts.
At this stage of the game, he looks really good. He had a fantastic workout out at Zimmer last week. I think he really wants to run, but as we step up the game in terms of intensity and quality over the next week or two, we'll see.
QUESTION: Mick, how or why have you been able to grow this meet into maybe the biggest meet of the year in just four years?
BYRNE: I think without a doubt it's definitely the biggest collegiate invitational. A lot of it has to do with head-to-head competition. We get great representation across all nine regions, and I think the pre-national meet that's traditionally run on the same day, they used to break the meet up into two different races, and it's very hard to compare race A to race B, and I think coaches like the idea of going head-to-head competition.
Our course, obviously, is a great course. They recognize that. And it gives everybody an opportunity at the end of the day. You go home, you look at result, and you see how you competed against the teams from your league, and the coaches really like that.
QUESTION: With or without Mohammed, with or without Reed, is this a national championship-caliber squad?
BYRNE: That's a good question. I wish I knew the answer to that. Well, we're going to see a lot of great teams this weekend, and I think we'll know a little bit more about what's going on around the country. There's three or four teams not coming to the meet, and they're going down to Louisville to run in the pre-national meet.
So I think after this weekend, we'll really have a good, clear picture of what's going on around the country and the whole national scene.