March 8, 2014
MADISON, Wis. – Led by the top seed in the 5000 meters and weight throw, the No. 5-ranked Wisconsin men’s track and field team will be represented by eight entries at next weekend’s 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships.
The Badgers will send sixth athletes to Albuquerque, N.M., for the NCAA meet March 14-15, with UW represented in six different events.
Only No. 2 Arkansas (15), top-ranked Florida (13), No. 4 Oregon (11) and No. 3 Texas A&M (9) have more entries than Wisconsin, who matched No. 11 Alabama for the fifth-largest contingent of entries in the meet with eight.
After a dramatic win that claimed the conference title for UW at the 2014 Big Ten Indoor Championships, Wisconsin has already hit the end of the road when it comes to qualifying for the NCAA championships.
Unlike past seasons, there is no longer a last-chance meet after the Big Ten championships for athletes to qualify for the NCAA meet.
In addition, since 2013, the NCAA no longer relies on predetermined time or mark standards to determine the participants. Instead, a hard cap on the number of entries in each event have been put in place. The top 16 athletes and top 12 relay teams in each event will be awarded berths to the NCAA championships.
Heading into next weekend’s NCAA meet, Wisconsin has six athletes in six different events that have qualified for the NCAA indoor championships.
Seniors Reed Connor and Japheth Cato are the only Badgers to qualify in multiple events. Connor ranks No. 1 nationally in the 5000 meters (13:37.42) and ninth in the 3000 (7:51.78).
After winning the Big Ten title in the heptathlon (5,837 points), Cato ranks fifth in the event heading into NCAAs. Cato also sits fourth in the country in the pole vault after clearing a school-record height of 18 feet, 2 1/2 inches earlier this season.
Joining Connor in the 5000 will be Mohammed Ahmed, who ranks 12th nationally in 13 minutes, 44.32 seconds after winning the Big Ten title.
Junior Zach Ziemek, who finished runner-up to Cato in the heptathlon at the conference meet, ranks sixth in the nation (5,815) and will compete alongside his senior teammate. Cato and Ziemek finished second and fifth, respectively, in the heptathlon at last year’s NCAA meet.
In the throws, senior Danny Block ranks No. 10 nationally in the shot put (64-1 3/4), while junior Michael Lihrman, who captured the conference title in the weight throw, leads the country in the event with a heave of 79-7 1/2 that set a new NCAA Division I record earlier this season.
Junior Deanna Latham is the lone Wisconsin women’s entry at the NCAA meet, as the 2014 Big Ten pentathlon champion will compete in the five-event discipline on Saturday. Latham set a personal-best score of 4,176 en route to winning the conference title last month.