June 19, 2013
DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Wisconsin men’s and women’s track and field programs have qualified eight athletes for this week’s 2013 USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, with another five former Badgers also set to compete.
The four-day competition begins Thursday at Drake Stadium.
The 13 athletes with Badgers ties will be in the hunt for spots on Team USA for this summer’s 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow. In all, Wisconsin will be represented in eight events.
A total of five current and former Badgers open the competition Thursday in the first round of the men’s 1500 meters at 5 p.m. Senior Rob Finnerty, sophomore Alex Hatz and sophomore Austin Mudd -- coming off an All-America showing in the event at the NCAA championships will all compete, as will former Badgers Jack Bolas and Craig Miller. A total of 12 athletes will advance to Saturday’s final at 5:40 p.m.
Hatz ran a 3:39.87 that was the third-fastest time in the NCAA during the college season, while Mudd is in on the strength of his school-record run of 3:57.93 in the mile from the indoor season.
Finnerty raced his way into the field by setting up shop in Indianapolis for seven days to take part in the American Milers Club’s three High Performance Series events last week. He fell short of the automatic qualifying standard in his first two races in Indy but was brilliant in the third, running a time of 3:38.34 that ranks as the fastest by a collegian and has him No. 12 among Americans this year.
Bolas enters his sixth-consecutive USA championships ranked No. 3 on the U.S. list at 3:36.35. Miller ranks ninth among Americans on the year at 3:37.81.
Also Thursday, senior Elliot Krause and former Badger Matt Tegenkamp will race in the final of the men’s 10,000 meters at 9 p.m.
Krause has battled injuries since running an impressive 13:34.30 for the 5000 meters at the Mt. SAC Relays in April. He grinded out a fourth-place finish in the 10,000 meters at the Big Ten championships in 29:35.17, but that effort left him unable to finish at the NCAA West Preliminary Round and ended his final collegiate season.
Tegenkamp is running after initially saying he would skip the USA championships. He has made each of the last five U.S. national teams for the world championships or Olympics and finished runner-up in the 10,000 at the last two USA championships in 2011 and 2012.
Junior Alex Brill, the Big Ten champion in the event, will compete alongside former Badger Evan Jager in the first round of the 3000 steeplechase at 4:10 p.m. Friday. The final round is set for 3:55 p.m. Sunday.
Jager has quickly ascended to the top in the steeplechase, setting the American record in the event at 8:06.81 in just his fifth-ever race. He is the defending U.S. champion after taking the win at the 2012 USA Olympic Trials and going on to make the Olympic final.
Also Friday, junior Michael Lihrman will make his outdoor Badgers debut in the men’s hammer throw. The transfer, who redshirted for UW this year, competes at 5 p.m. His only other competition in a UW uniform came at the USA Indoor Championships in March, when he broke the Badgers’ school record en route to a sixth-place finish.
He enters the competition coming off a lifetime-best performance at the Chicagoland Summer Throws Series on June 8, when he threw 220 feet, 10 inches to win the hammer throw.
His teammate, junior Danny Block, is set to compete in the discus at 6:30 p.m. The 2012 Big Ten champion, Block set UW’s school record in the discus in April when he posted a mark of 200-4 in La Jolla, Calif. Block is also set to compete in the shot put at 2:10 p.m. Sunday, an event in which he scored a runner-up finish at the Big Ten championships in May.
The women’s shot put is set for Saturday, with senior Taylor Smith competing for the final time as a Badger at 1 p.m. She claimed silver at the Big Ten championships and went on to finish 10th at the NCAA championships in the shot put. Smith’s biggest throw came in April, however, when she hit 56-11 1/2 to break her own UW school record.
One name surprisingly absent from the Badgers’ list of qualifiers is senior Maverick Darling, who was the top finishing American in the 5000 meters at the NCAA championships with his fourth-place finish. His lifetime-best 13:30.40 ranks him 19th on the U.S. list this season, but the field for Sunday’s 5000 meters was capped at 18.
Former Badger Chris Solinsky is among that group of 18, however, and has his sights set on returning to the world stage. He was part of the UW sweep of the 5000 at the 2009 USA Outdoor Championships -- along with Jager and Tegenkamp -- and went on to finish 12th at the world championships in Berlin.
An American record in the 10,000 meters followed in 2010, a year with no world championships.
Solinsky then finished runner-up at the USA championships again in 2011 and was poised for another shot at the world championships, but he was forced to withdraw because of injury. Another setback followed with a more severe injury in 2012 that prevented him from competing altogether and kept him from running at USA Olympic Trials.