first_imgThe pinnacle of the indoor track season will take place this weekend as a select number Badger athletes will travel down to College Station, Texas, for the highly anticipated 2009 indoor championships. There will be a total of nine athletes representing Wisconsin at the meet, which hosts the best from around the country.The men’s team had seven members qualify, a talented group the head coach Ed Nuttycombe is excited to see perform on the national stage.“We have seven athletes in four different events so we are excited to be able take a fairly large contingency and see what we can do,” Nuttycombe said.The members of this talented group who have qualified include Zach Beth, Craig Miller and Nate Larkin. Beth, a junior from Silver Lake, will be running in the 800-meter event. His qualifying time currently ranks him 14th among the competitors in the 800.In the mile, junior Miller qualified for nationals with a school record run that was under four minutes.“Breaking the four minute barrier is pretty magical,” Nuttycombe said.Miller’s record-breaking time ranks him 12th among the 15 other mile qualifiers. In the 60-meter hurdles, junior Larkin will represent UW. Larkin was a late addition to the qualifying list after another athlete had to withdraw due to injury, but his coach is excited to see what the hurdler can do with this opportunity.“Nate is an athlete who was surprised a lot of people this year,” Nuttycombe said. “He has been running his best times here in the last three weeks.”Rounding out the group of qualifiers for UW will be the talented distance medley relay team, which is comprised of Jack Bolas, Quinn Evans, Ryan Gasper and Steve Ludwig. Ludwig, the lone senior on the relay, acknowledged the added nerves that accompany such a recognized meet, but was also very confident in his team’s ability.“There is definitely a little more pressure because it’s a meet of such high prominence,” Ludwig said. “But we are confident that we can run with anyone else there.”Although the men’s team finished 5th overall in the Big Ten indoor championships, coach Nuttycombe was not surprised by his team’s result.“I wasn’t disappointed because I knew that’s about where we were going in,” Nuttycombe said. “We are what we are.”In the national meet, however, only the best of the best will step onto the track, and Nuttycombe knows he has some gifted athletes that have tirelessly worked to reach nationals and are eager to test themselves against the nation’s finest.“The hardest thing to do is get there, but once you’re there anything can happen,” Nuttycombe said. “They have earned the right to compete against the best in the country, and we are going to see what they can do.”The UW women’s team will send two of its members to nationals this weekend, one senior and one freshman. Gwen Jorgenson, a senior and UW’s most dominant performer as of late, will be running in three events for UW. She will compete in the mile, the 3,000 meter, and the 5,000 meter. Jorgensen qualified in 10th place for the 3,000 and 3rd for the 5,000 and swept both events at the Big Ten Indoor Championship.“I was just so proud to be a Badger that weekend and to have my teammates there, it was such a blessing,” Jorgensen said.Her recent victories have brought high expectations on Jorgensen, and she does not deny the nerves that may accompany her on the track.“In the bigger meets there are always more nerves but it’s nice to have encouraging teammates there to calm you down,” Jorgensen said. “I’m just going to go out there and compete well.”Jorgensen will not be only Badger runner battling some nerves, as freshman Dorcas Akinniyi will step into the spotlight of the national championships to partake in the pentathlon.“I’m nervous of course, but I am also very excited,” Akinniyi said. “I’m just going to focus on me and not put too much added pressure on myself.”The freshman athlete has sprung onto the national scene, but her coach saw the potential in her from the beginning.“We knew that there was something there and that she was a great athlete,” head coach Jim Stinzi said. “For her to get to the nationals as a freshman is a pretty amazing feat.”last_img

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