May 6, 2013
• Watch Stintzi Press Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's track and field head coach Jim Stintzi met with the media Monday to discuss his Badgers' preparations for this weekend's 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Nuttycombe's remarks can be found below.
QUESTION: Jim, could you kind of tell us about your season to date, and what you think about going into the Big Ten.
STINTZI: Let me start out, before I do that, and just mention that I think I'm the only person in the room that was here Ed Nuttycombe's first year. I was actually on the team. I don't know if that makes him old, me young, or him really old, I'm not sure.
But having had the opportunity to run for Ed and now coach alongside him, he's a really humble guy. He's not going to say this, but Ed is unique in the sport, and I think unique across sports in terms of the dominance he's had across the board, kind of heading up cross country and track and field here.
And it's not just because he's had great athletes and great assistant coaches. Ed is a really great coach. He really is. I'm lucky and I think the rest of the staff are just lucky -- to be working with him.
So getting on to our season, the thing I'm excited about going into the Big Ten championship is for our key players. We've all been hitting kind of season PRs, or PRs in general, the last couple weeks of the season. Our throwers are on fire right now. Deanna and Dorcas are always ready to go. The distance runners are doing what they need to do to improve each week.
We've taken a different approach this year with a few of our key athletes. Dorcas (Akinniyi) has not actually even done a full heptathlon, and that's new for her. She's also had a hamstring injury. But we also want her to be able to go at the Big Ten meet and beyond. So we're really trying to hit a peak for her.
We've done the same thing with Caitlin Comfort. She's not run a 10K yet this year, a little bit of our gamble, but our goal for her is hopefully that she can win the Big Ten championship and go on to score at the NCAA championships.
And then with Deanna Latham, even though she leads the Big Ten in the heptathlon, she's going to do individual events here and move to the heptathlon for the NCAA championships.
So a little different move than we've taken in the past. We think it's going to work, but as Ed mentioned, you never know until the day of the meet. So we're looking forward to some good things.
QUESTION: Since you've been on this side and then on the other side before coming back to this side, you know you think about dynasties, quote-unquote, and you either love or hate the Celtics or love or hate the Yankees. Do you think coaches and even athletes don't like Wisconsin track and field, speaking of Ed's program?
STINTZI: They hate Wisconsin track and field. Sometimes I hate Ed he's so successful (laughs). No, seriously, I think Ed's teams have done it in a really classy way, and I think there is respect for Wisconsin track and cross country. And I think you can see it in the way other teams are set up that they haven't exactly conceded some of those areas, the multi events, the distance events, but that they're trying to build their teams in other areas because Wisconsin has kind of been so dominant in those areas. That in itself tells you there's a great deal of respect for him.
QUESTION: What's been the key to your multi event success over the years?
STINTZI: We've got a great coach in Nate Davis. He's like Ed Nuttycombe in that they love the event. You have to love coaching a lot of different events, and you have to be willing to put in a lot of time. And you have to be willing to go after those types of kids who are willing to not be a star in one event and kind of suffer through those long practices and hope to put it together. I think that's the key, and then, again, just getting those right type of kids that have that mentality that, if they have one bad jump or their hurdles aren't quite right, they don't throw in the towel, that they know it's a cumulative score for all those events.
That's easier said than done. If you watch any decathlon or heptathlon, you'll see some kids who look like they're going to be doing great, and then they might have one event that's off, and their whole thing goes to pieces. So that's coaching, and that's the right mental attitude for the athletes.
QUESTION: Caitlin Comfort was the indoor 5000 meter champion. She's ranked fifth outdoors. Is that the difference between indoors and outdoors? How do you go from first to fifth?
STINTZI: She's only run it one time (outdoors), and it was a real controlled race. That's one of the gambles we've taken. We haven't raced Caitlin very much. It's a really, really long year for a distance runner. You'll notice the same thing with some of the Mick's guys in that they haven't raced a whole lot.
I don't want to put a lot of undue pressure on Caitlin. I think she could win both the 5K and 10K. I think she's the best longer distance runner in this conference if you look year-in and year-out. She's the only woman in the conference to make it to the finals last year in the NCAA championships outdoors. I think she's ready to go.
With that said, the 10 and the 5 is a really difficult double. We didn't ask her to do that last year. We're going to ask her to do it this year. So rankings are a little bit misleading.
I fully expect Caitlin to be in the race. She's got to race a little bit differently than some of the girls out there. She's not a great kicker. Indoors, she kind of went from the gun and made everybody run with her. Then she'll have to make that decision at this meet as well.
I don't know if I answered your question. I wasn't trying to get around it. I think she's ready to go, and the fifth-place ranking means little, I hope.
QUESTION: Being a pupil under Coach Nuttycombe, do you find yourself now as a head coach taking a few pages out of his book?
STINTZI: He makes me. He'll walk into my office and say, Jim, this is what you need to do (laughs). No. He was talking about the camaraderie on the floor, and there really is good camaraderie on the floor. We all talk to each other about different things. I'm kidding about that. He won't push himself on you, but he's always been there if I've got questions about how to approach it or how they would do things. So he's been real good with that.
QUESTION: One more Ed question, if you don't mind.
STINTZI: The Ed show here.
QUESTION: Track can be pretty individual with a team component, but his teams, especially in the Big Ten, seem to bind to that team concept. How important do you think that is, even at your own detriment, selling out to get team points?
STINTZI: It's difficult. It's a difficult sell for some kids when they come into college because it's been all about them through high school. They may have been part of a good team. They may not have.
I think that's one of the keys to Ed's success over the years is that he's been able to kind of sell the team concept as opposed to it just being about you. It's not an easy thing to do, but he's done a great job of it.
QUESTION: Jim, Dorcas Akinniyi, two time female student athlete of the year at the University of Wisconsin, four time Big Ten champ if I'm not mistaken. Has she exceeded or far exceeded what you ever thought from her when she came in from Texas?
STINTZI: Yeah, without a doubt. When Dorcas came in, she was a high jumper and a discus thrower. She's never thrown the discus for us yet. That sort of upsets me a little bit because I know she can throw really well. Of course, we don't need her on the discus. We've got some great throwers. We knew she was basically a multi eventer when we brought her in, and we knew she was kind of a great all around athlete. You don't know how that's going to translate into somebody who's doing the multi events.
She certainly exceeded our expectations. Once she kind of got the hang of it and started being successful, I think we thought, wow, she could really go far. I think she if she decides to do this, she can do this post collegiately and make even bigger jumps. That's certainly a choice for her to make.
She has certainly exceeded our expectations, yes.