Jan. 18, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- The Missouri Tigers were closing in on the Wisconsin women's track and field team throughout Saturday afternoon's running events at the Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center, but UW's showing in a pair of long distance events proved enough to seal an 80-72 victory in UW's first dual meet since 1988.
Junior Courtney Walden provided the spark for the Badgers in the field events by winning pole vault after clearing 12 feet, 5 1/2 inches on her first try. Her victory gave the Badgers a 63-54 lead with just four events remaining.
The Tigers then put forth a dominating effort in the shot put to pull within four points. Junior Kearsten Peoples launched a toss of 54-7 1/4 before fellow junior Jill Rushin nearly matched that with a throw of 52-6 1/2 to give the Tigers eight points.
That trimmed UW's lead to 66-62 with three events remaining, but the Badgers would need just one victory to come away with the win. The Badgers were just 0.04 seconds away from clinching it in the distance medley relay as Wisconsin sophomore Dana Steffen and Missouri senior Alison Ross battled in the final leg, with Ross closing out just strong enough to win in 12 minutes, 23.66 seconds pull the Tigers within two, 69-67.
The Badgers clinched moments later in the triple jump, however, as senior Laura McGinnis and freshman Taylor Johnson were the only competitors in the event and put the Badgers up 10 with only the 4x400 relay remaining. McGinnis won with a leap of 37-9 1/2 to give her a pair of victories on the day. She also claimed the long jump with a mark of 18-1 3/4.
The Tigers (3:55.60) edged out the Badgers (4:00.47) in the 4x400 to close out the opening weekend of the 2014 indoor season. According to Wisconsin Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Mick Byrne, the tight dual was just what the Badgers needed this early in the season.
"I think both teams were matched up really well," Byrne said. "The triple jump certainly helped us there at the end of the meet and it was great to see the kids respond in the triple jump. Unfortunately Missouri didn't score a lot of points in that event.
"But overall, certainly on the women's side, the teams were really matched up well."
The Badgers also impressed in the mile run and the 400 meters. Sophomore Emma-Lisa Murphy (5:01.56) and senior Victoria Paulson (5:06.11) finished 1-2 in the mile, while freshman Brenna Detra barely edged out Missouri sophomore Ayooluwa Adewole in the 400 to take the win in 58.18.
Senior transfer Erin Cawley continued her strong finish from cross country season to dominate the 3000 meters. She finished in 9:45.56, well ahead of second-place finisher Nicole Mello (10:15.42), a Tigers freshman.
"It was a great experience for everybody," Byrne said. "The concept of having a dual meet, being in the stadium for two and a half hours, I think it works and we're going to do more of it."
The Badgers will get back into action next weekend, when they will host the Wisconsin Elite Invitational at the Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24-25. The discus competition on Friday is set to begin at 5 p.m. (CT) while field events are set to begin at noon (CT) on Saturday.