Monday press conference: Ed Nuttycombe

Men's track coach discussed Milwaukee sprinters, his young team's success and upcoming meets

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Opening Statement:

"Well, we're looking forward to the only home meet we have during the outdoor season. Unfortunately, in this part of the country you don't get a lot of opportunities and with certain weekends being earmarked, for instance two weekends ago (it was) the Drake Relays and everybody in the Midwest goes to Drake, it is hard to get teams in. But, we are very excited about it. It should be competitive. We will run most of the team. Those who are in a position where it's best that they not run and kind of wait for the Big Ten Championship, and there are a few of those, we'll hold them out. But most of the guys will run. I guess the words would be to kind of put a final spit-shine polish on their preparations for the championship season, which really begins with the Big Ten, two weeks later the regionals and two weeks later the NCAAs."

What is your Milwaukee connection and getting good sprinters out of there. What has led to that area producing such high-quality sprinters?

"I think there are a couple of reasons why they are able to produce all of those sprinters and I think there is a couple of reasons why there is a good relationship there. There has been a good club program, a good summer club program, that has really helped nurture the sprint corps beyond the regular high school season. There are some clubs over there, one in particular (is) the Milwaukee Striders and Joe Simms (who) has coached those young men. He has coached them for 20-plus years. My experience with him goes back to Robert Hackett in the early ‘80s. There's been a whole slew of them, almost too many to name. And there is other clubs that have done equally as well. We have a relationship with those coaches in that area and the clubs during the summer. I think what we have been able to show is that you can sprint and you can hurdle and you can do some of the, perhaps maybe misconstrued in my opinion, the warmer weather events, you can do them here when you have facilities and a commitment to it. It has been nice to get the Demi Omoles and the B.J. Tuckers and the Michael Bennetts and of course Antonio (Freeman) is coming in next year. It is something we hope to continue to work with and nurture and to try in our own way to help it develop."

Can you talk about Demi (Omole's) potential?

"I was kidding with him at practice the other day, somebody said that he might be the best sprinter to come through Wisconsin. And I said ‘Demi, did you hear that key word there?' And the key word there is ‘might.' He has a lot of talent. He is really just on the cutting edge. He has already run a 10.29 (100 meters), he is the No.1 ranked freshman in the country and he ranked No.9 in the nation overall. He is actually the second ranked junior sprinter, meaning athletes who do not turn 20 years old during the year 2004, in the nation. So, one of our goals is for him to make the Junior World Championship team, which competes in Italy this summer. I think what you are seeing is the tip of the iceberg as it relates to his talent. Next year, I think he is going to get a lot better. He did not come in until mid-year, so he missed a lot of the fall base training. It has been difficult to do that once you start competing. I like to say you can't compete at the highest level and train at the highest level – it's like oil and water – they do not mix. One has to give in order to do the other. Right now, a lot of it has been the training for him. That will be better next year when he has the fall program."

What do you think Peter Tegen's legacy will be?  

"I think it is going to be a long time before the University of Wisconsin has another coach that has done what Peter Tegen has done. When you look over the long period of time that he has been here and you look at the number of championships that he has produced. . . I think the most impressive for me personally is not only the championships, but the individual national champions he has had is phenomenal. I think in order to do that you have to have a lot of good things going for you. You have to have a good staff but most of all, you have to be a good coach and a good organizer. I think he has left a big footprint here that is going to be hard to fill. I am going to miss him personally because I consider him to be a friend. We travel in different worlds in a lot of ways in the sense that we travel to meets separately, we have separate staffs and budgets, and staff meetings. But we do one thing in common and that is we go to the track everyday and we share the same facility at the same time. You get to know somebody that way. I consider him a friend and I will personally miss him."

Who are the other teams competing for the title in the Big Ten?

"We have the home meet this weekend (but) the other part of the talk today would be the fact that the following weekend is the Big Ten championship. We had an outstanding meet indoors. I don't know what more we could have done. We're here in the basketball arena and it was one of those things where every shot you threw up went in somehow. That is the way it went for us indoors. I don't know if that's realistic on a regular basis. The outdoor meet is most definitely a different meet. There's different events, it's a different time of the year and in many cases, there is even different personnel. I think that we are a contending team. Certainly, we are going to go there with the idea that we are going to try to complete the (Big Ten) Triple Crown again. I think the other team that really truly has chance to win the championship is Minnesota. They are a very veteran team and they are a very good team. They did not necessarily have a very good meet indoors. I think they will be a very formidable foe and one that we will have to rise to the occasion to battle. After that, there is a group of two-three schools that I'm not sure, on a normal situation would be able to beat a Minnesota or a Wisconsin, but are pretty good teams themselves. Ohio State, Purdue being at home and I think Illinois is a much, much improved team this year."

Did this young team of yours come together even a little quicker than you thought possible?

"You know somebody asked me earlier in the year if this is the best team we have ever had. I think it is a little premature to say that this is our best team, but it probably is our best young team. When you talk about freshman in particular that have contributed like they have and have made marks like they haveJoe Thomas, Paul Hubbard, Chris Solinsky, Demi Omole and there are other athletes that come to mind. That is a pretty incredible group of young talent that I think is something good to build on. Yes, they probably have come into their own a little quicker than you might have imagined. When you are as talented as some of these young men are, it is probably not a surprise. It is a good team. We will find out whether we're a championship team here again in a couple of weekends. It is a good group of young men to base a nucleus of a building program still."

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