Cross country striving for 7 straight in Purdue

first_imgAs temperatures decrease, the Badgers men’s cross country team is peaking at the right time. Coming off a record-setting 10th consecutive Big Ten Championship — the first under new head coach Mick Byrne — the team is making strides.This weekend they travel to West Lafayette, Ind., to run in the Great Lakes Regional Championships, a meet hosted at Purdue University, a place where the Badgers have won six consecutive times. To advance to the national championship, the Badgers need to finish within the top two to automatically qualify.The Badgers have numerous runners anxious to repeat their winning tradition. This past week, Byrne earned the title of Big Ten coach of the year, while sophomores Landon Peacock, Jack Bolas and senior Christian Wagner all garnered first team All-Big Ten honors. Stu Egan and Craig Miller each earned second team all-Big Ten.Peacock will undoubtedly use the momentum from the Big Ten championship to propel him in this weekend’s regional.“Coming in second at Big Ten is definitely a confidence booster,” Peacock said. “That was probably my best collegiate race so far, so when you have a race like that, you know you’re doing something right.”The depth of this team is exemplified by its last race. A model of consistency all year, senior Matt Withrow struggled at the Big Ten Championship. Filling the void was Peacock, who ran his best race of the year at 24:35, finishing second in the entire tournament.“Stuart Egan and Matt Withrow didn’t have their best days.” Byrne said. “You know the sign of a good team is when two of your top guys are off their top game, and the other guys picked up the slack.”Peacock and Wagner certainly proved they were big time performers.“They were there in the supporting role, but as it turned out, they stepped into the leading role,” Byrne said. “We need solid races from Stuart and Matt [to compete this weekend].”Not only will contributions from the entire team be essential for improving their streak of six consecutive victories, but timing will also play a vital role at the Great Lakes Regional, as only nine seconds separated Peacock from the first place finisher at the Big Ten Championships.“At the Big Ten race, I kind of put on my move a little bit too early, and [for this race] maybe I’ll hold back a little bit longer,” he said.“The overall objective for this tournament is just to go in and get one of those two spots,” Byrne said.The difference between this tournament and the rest of the regular season for the Badgers is that the Great Lakes Regional acts as a stepping stone to the NCAA Championships.“[The goal for this weekends tournament] is just to qualify and move on,” Peacock said. “The goal is just to go out and get our job done. I don’t want to put everything out there on the line because not much more than a week later, we have the national race and that’s the race that really matters.”Looming on the horizon is the NCAA Championships, a plateau the Badgers have had their eyes on for the entire season.“It’s the National Championship,” Byrne said. “We’ve got to go in there healthy; we need to go in there with our big guys firing on all cylinders, and if we do that, we’ll be going in there with five or six kids competing for that national trophy.”last_img

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