Feb. 21, 2013
GENEVA, Ohio -- After posting strong performances all season long, the Wisconsin women's track and field team is ready to step up the competition and begin the championship season this weekend, as the Badgers head to the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships in Geneva, Ohio.
For the first time in conference history, the Big Ten championships will be held on an off-campus site, the SPIRE Institute and its eight-lane, 300-meter track in Geneva, Ohio. Competition will begin at 10 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
UW head coach Jim Stintzi is looking forward to competing at the new neutral-site facility.
"It's the first time we've ever run a 300-meter track in the Big Ten championship," Stintzi said. "We're looking forward to that opportunity to run some fast times and be in a new environment that will change the way the Big Ten meet is run, and may change it permanently."
Several Badgers enter the meet as the top seeds in their events, including multi-event athletes Deanna Latham and Jessica Flax.
Latham enters the weekend as the favorite in the pentathlon, leading the way for Wisconsin as the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten and 11th nationally, with her personal-best score of 4,024 points.
Flax, a 2012 second-team All-American in the pentathlon, enters the meet as the No. 2 seed after recording a season-best score of 4,009 points. At last year's Big ten championships, Flax took second overall with a score of 4,008. Flax ranks 13th nationally in the event.
Stintzi isn't surprised by the progress Latham as made this season and is looking forward to the competition between the teammates.
"These are things we expected from Deanna, but she has made a really big jump this year," Stintzi said. "Obviously, Jessica is incredibly consistent both at the Big Ten level and at the national level."
"I think this is the start of the transition from Dorcas Akinniyi and Jessica Flax to now Deanna is going to kind of -- she's a little bit younger than these two -- this is their last year -- so I think it will be her chance to maybe unseat Jessica. That would be fun to watch. Or certainly carry on that tradition," Stintzi said.
Redshirt freshman Yolanda Hayes-Barnes will also compete in the event.
Along with the pentathlon, the duo of Latham and Flax will also compete in the 60 hurdles. Latham enters at the league's No. 5 seed after breaking the Wisconsin school record in the event with a time of 8.39 seconds at the Cyclone Classic on Feb. 7. Flax enters the event as the No. 10 seed after recording a season-best time of 8.52.
Latham also enters the weekend seeded at No. 3 in the long jump with the personal-best mark of 19 feet, 8 3/4 inches she recorded on Feb. 7.
Wisconsin throwers have been recording big marks throughout the 2013 season and head into the weekend looking to build on their early season success.
Sophomore Kelsey Card leads the way for the Badgers in the shot put. Card enters as the No. 2 seed and ranks 18th nationally after throwing 54-2 at last weekend's Red & White Open. Senior Taylor Smith comes in at No. 4 in the event and ranks 22nd in the nation with a mark of 53-9 1/4.
Abby Lueck sits at No. 12 after recording an effort of 48-5 1/4 earlier this season.
In the weight throw, Smith is ranked eighth in the nation and leads the way for Wisconsin as the No. 2 seed with her season-best mark of 69-11 1/2. Card enters the event as the No. 8 seed with her mark of 63-2 1/4. Lueck ranks 10th, while sophomore Angela Boushea ranks 12th in the event.
Also for Wisconsin, redshirt freshman Taylor Kirby, sophomore Courtney Walden, and sophomore Jessica Vardas will compete in the pole valut.
In addition to the field events, Wisconsin is looking to get strong performances on the track.
"We have to get some good quality performances from Caitlin Comfort, Gabrielle Anzalone, and Ashley Beutler in the three, five and the mile," Stintzi said.
In the seeded 5000 meters, seniors Beutler and Comfort and sophomore Anzalone head into the competition ranked in the top 10. Comfort is ranked 20th nationally and is seeded No. 2, while Beutler ranks 40th in the nation and is seeded fourth. Anzalone heads into the event as the seventh seed.
The trio of Comfort, Beutler and Anzalone will also compete in the 3000 meters, along with senior Hanna Knurr.
In the mile, Beutler and redshirt freshman Colleen McNulty are entered for Wisconsin.
Also competing for the Badgers are freshman Lauren Holtz and junior Elizabeth Sequin in the 800 meters and senior Brittney Harper, sophomore Elizabeth Duxbury and Abbie Weigel in the 600 meters.
Additionally, the Badgers will make their season debut in the distance medley relay. Beutler, Harper, sophomore Elizabeth Wendt and junior Rachel McNally will compete for UW.
Senior Carrie Edumunds, Harper, Flax and Latham will close out the meet for Wisconsin, when they compete in the 4x400 relay.
After a strong regular season, the Badgers are ready for the challenge of the Big Ten championships and looking forward to competing at the next level.
"We're excited to be heading to the Big Ten championships," Stintzi said. "We're healthy and ready to go."
"We're hoping our pentathletes, our throwers, our people in the three (3000 meters) and the five (5000 meters) and our hurdlers will come through and put us in the mix."