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Stintzi looks ahead to Big Ten championship at news conference

ON WISCONSIN <b>Head coach Jim Stintzi met with the media Monday to discuss Sunday's Big Ten championship.</b>
Head coach Jim Stintzi met with the media Monday to discuss Sunday's Big Ten championship.

Oct. 23, 2012

Stintzi News Conference Small Video Graphic

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin women's cross country coach Jim Stintzi looked ahead to Sunday's 2012 Big Ten Championship during Wisconsin Athletcs' weekly news conference Monday.

Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Stintzi's remarks can be found below.

STINTZI: Quick overview of the season. Our season seems like it's relatively short. We had a real small home opener here that was just kind of a chance to get our feet wet. Went to Virginia, about a 10 team meet, and won that. And then went to see the NCAA championship course at Louisville, and we were seventh out of 30 some teams there.

And those two weekends, leading up to our disastrous result here at our big invitational here, in a couple of meets that we started out with, we had a gap of about 40 to 50 seconds from our first to our fifth runner. And our home meet here, with 48 teams, we were at 1:32.

As we head into the Big Ten championships, the question that I would pose to our team is which team is going to show up?  Is if we have a squad of one to five of 30 to 50 seconds, we should be in the mix. If we have the team that showed up for our home invitational, it would be not so pretty.

So with that said, I feel pretty good about the workouts and how everybody is doing and the fact that the Big Ten meet is a much different meet than a 48 team meet. It's much easier to find your teammates and see where you need to be.

As we head into the Big Ten championship, we feel good. We're healthy. We didn't have Lavinia Jurkiewicz at our home meet. She's typically our fifth runner. She's back and healthy. So, I feel good going into it.

QUESTION: It was disastrous at the adidas (Invitational), but there were so many teams, so many runners, that could be recipe for disaster for any team, right?  

STINTZI: Yeah, it was. We had a perfect storm where our top runners probably went out too fast and with people they shouldn't have been with, and our back runners were way at the back. Our course is a great course, but if you get caught in the back, it's very difficult to move up because there's a lot of switchbacks and finger loops.

So good lesson to learn in a really big meet environment, but certainly not the weekend we wanted to learn that lesson.

QUESTION: Could you give us a preview of the Big Ten meet. Michigan State, the defenders, are they the team again?  

STINTZI: I think most people would say Michigan is the top team coming back. So last year, there was about a 20 point difference between Michigan State and we were fourth. Michigan was a couple points behind Michigan State and then Penn State maybe 15 points back, and we were 20 points back.

I think it looks really similar except I think Michigan has the up-front power this year. They've got three outstanding runners. Michigan State, Penn State were really balanced leading into two weeks ago. I would say we're probably the fourth-best team. Minnesota is a strong team as well. So I think it's Michigan's to lose, but I think there are other teams that could come through. I think it will be close again.

It's a little different than the guys’ scenario, where there's one sort of outstanding team. The past few years, the women's Big Ten has been really tight. One through four, or one through five teams, and one through six occasionally. So I think it will be that way again.

QUESTION: Kind of a two part question, I guess. Gabi Anzalone, how's she done coming off her Big Ten Freshman of the Year last year?  And second, your team looked to be running so well, and then what happened in the adidas meet. As a coach, you've gone through all sorts of experiences. Have you gone through something like that where kind of just shocked you a little bit?  

STINTZI: Yeah, I know, that was a big shock to me, to be honest with you. I honestly thought we would probably be in the top 10 to 15, somewhere in that meet, which would mean you're one of the better teams in the country.

And I still believe that's where we belong. When I look at our earlier meets and I see how we ran as a team, I think that we're capable of that, let's put it that way.

As far as Gabi goes, she's running great. She was our first runner at the adidas meet. She was our second runner at the other two meets, behind Ashley Beutler, who's a fifth-year senior, so she's exactly where she needs to be. As a matter of fact, I think, Ashley is where she needs to be. Hannah Knurr has been our third runner throughout the year, and has been consistent. If she runs the raise she normally runs, it will come down to our fourth and fifth runners.

Back to your original question, was I shocked?  Yes. Do I think we can bounce back from that, I definitely think we can.

QUESTION: Ashley is certainly the most familiar name to people around here. Just give us a picture of her year and her career here at Wisconsin.

STINTZI: Ashley's been -- she's had a very good year so far. She's been kind of our leader. Again, she was out just a little too hard in that race (at the adidas Invitational), and I think she paid the price for it in the middle.

But I think that she will be -- she and Gabi will definitely be our leaders. She's been All-Big Ten since she's been here. She narrowly missed winning the Big Ten (outdoor) championships last year by less than a half-second in the steeplechase. The thing about Ashley that's been great and been a little bit difficult for us is that she's really versatile. She could run all the way up to 10K if we let her do it, but she scored multiple times in the mile at the Big Ten championships.

I think she has found her niche in the track in the steeplechase. She narrowly missed making it to NCAA finals last year. I do see her as somebody who will be a national-caliber kid this year in the steeplechase because I think that's ultimately the mix for her. She's got good leg speed. She's not quite as fast as the top national milers. She doesn't love the longer things. But the steeplechase is an athletic event, something I think she's going to find her niche.

As far as cross country, I think Ashley could    she could be in the hunt for the individual championship this weekend. There's a lot of people that could win that, though. There's no clear favorite. I don't think there's a clear favorite for the first time in a while in the Big Ten championship. So she could be there.

I don't want to put tons of pressure on it. She has been consistent in the past. I see her in the mix, but we'll see how it goes.

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