With the NCAA Championship meet only days away, the Men's Track team has overtaken Florida State for the top spot in the national polls. The Badgers are ranked No. 1 in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and also in the Trackwire 25, a poll that predicts team results for the Championship meet. Wisconsin's recent surge knocked the Seminoles from the No. 1 spot for the first time this indoor season.
The Badgers will send nine athletes to the Championship meet, each one qualifying in the top eight of their event. If this prediction holds true, the Badgers will have scored in every event they qualified in and have a good chance of walking away with the National Championship. Head Coach Ed Nuttycombe expressed this optimistic attitude in his recent press conference, ""We're excited about the opportunity to go down and compete. It's the meet you look forward to as far as doing the best you can at the highest level .... We've got a good number of athletes ready to go and we're hoping to make a big impact.""
While accolades and recognition are always a plus, these Badgers are looking for more than just regular season awards. The recent No. 1 ranking has only fueled their desire for the ultimate accomplishment, a National Championship. As Coach Nuttycombe stated, ""When you get at that level, and in those rankings, you don't think about trying to get second or third, you're trying to think about winning the whole show...When you get this close you're at least thinking about the possibility.""
Seniors Chris Solinsky and Demi Omole are anticipated to lead the Badgers in scoring. Omole looks to score big in the 60 meter dash, where he won the Big Ten Championship and qualified in second place for the NCAA meet. Solinsky looks to defend his title in the 3,000 while also being the top seed in the 5,000 meter run. Sophomore Stu Eagon will also compete in both the 3,000 and the 5,000 qualifying in third and fourth respectively. Seniors Tim Nelson (5,000 meter) and Joe Detmer (heptathlon) round out the list of individual competitors representing the Badgers.
The Badgers, normally a team driven by depth, now rely on their stars to carry them through the championship meet. ""The NCAA is a completely different type of meet in the sense that you really need to have some horses, some stallions out there and we're fortunate that we do have a group of them in Demi, Chris Solinsky, Tim Nelson, Stu Eagon and Joe Detmer to name a few.""
As the indoor season winds down the Badgers look to make a solid run at the NCAA Championship crown. Capitalizing on opportunities is the key to achieving that goal and in doing so proving the polls correct. As Coach Nuttycombe stated, ""The first thing you have to do is get the opportunity to score and then take advantage of that moment. When you have that few of opportunities, it's about hitting on a great number of them, if not all of them in some capacity.""