Monday press conference: Ed Nuttycombe

Men's track coach discussed his team's success, hosting the Wisconsin Twilight Saturday and the upcoming Big Ten Championship

"Well, we always look forward to hosting the few meets that we have, and this year it happens to be one outdoor, so we're really looking forward to it. We're also looking forward to the weather forecast as we go deeper into the week, because it's supposed to be high 70's, close to 80, so that's a great thing, especially as you look outside today.

"It's great competing in front of your home crowd. We do have a group of seniors that'll be competing at home for the last time, and I know they're looking forward to that opportunity. It's the last opportunity to kind of put a little finish on the season as we prepare for what you would consider to be the championship part of the season, the Big Ten Championship, the region, and then moving into the NCAA. So we're excited and looking forward to the opportunity this weekend."

Could you tell us, you've got some seniors, but Josh Spiker and Matt Tegenkamp in particular, what they've meant to your program?

"I can't say enough about the senior class in general, because since that class has rolled in, we haven't seen too many days where we weren't standing on top of the podium. So when you miss that class in general, there's some shoes to fill.

"But in the case of Josh and Matt in particular, tremendous leadership on and off the track, captains, you know when you go to the track they're going to bring their best effort. And I think it really raises the level for everybody. And, you know, those are shoes you just cannot fill and we will miss tremendously."

Coach, as the defending outdoor champ and coming off the indoor win, do you look at yourself as a favorite for the Big Ten outdoor title?

"I suppose there'd probably be no other way to look at it. I look at where we are right now, and maybe it's what makes me work the way I work and the team works the way they work in the sense that I don't think you ever take anything for granted. I think when you're the defending champion and you win indoors and you're returning a great deal of last year's team that did win, it'd be hard to put yourself in any other place.

"But I can assure you that come next weekend, that will mean very little as we go to the track because you never want to underestimate your opponent. And we'll have to have a good meet. There are some other very good teams, in the meet, some teams that are nationally ranked and have had some, actually some tremendous performances outdoors. So I think we're going to have to have a good meet to hold onto that championship."

You said tremendous performances outdoor. Simon Bairu in the 10,000 meter, that's quite a record to shatter, something that's been standing for 30 years here at the UW.

"A great record, one of the oldest records on the book, Mark Johnson's record from 1976, so it'd be 29 years old. If you think of the great history of track and field that goes back to even before I was here, there have been a lot of great distance runners. And to break a record, and to actually shatter the record by quite a distance is a tremendous mark.

"... The distance crew, our distance crew were out at Stanford and are on their way back into town yet. And they had a great weekend, and that was probably the highlight of it was that mark. I mean, that's, like I said, with the history of distance here and a mark that's held up for 29 years, I think the numbers speak for itself."

Do you have a home-field advantage at the McClimon for when you only compete there once?

"You know, I don't think we're any different than any other sport. I think you do. I think the advantage is the excitement in this particular case of being able to compete in front of your home crowd. It will be, you know, it's always a dubious weekend in the sense that a lot of athletes have come off big meets a week or two before, and I think you also put a little bit of additional stress on the fact that exams are coming up and that's always a trying time for them.

"So it's an advantage and one that we hope to take advantage of with some good marks, good weather. Who runs what and how many of the athletes will run, we'll have to sit down here as a staff in the next day or two and decide."

Can you just talk a little bit about what teams will be here this weekend and some of the events to watch?

"Well, I know Marquette, the entries are due on Wednesday, so when people say, well, who's coming in, unlike football, they pretty much know who their opponent is not only the week before, but several years before. But the entries are due on Wednesday, but we do know that North Dakota State is coming. We know that Northern Iowa is coming. We do know that Marquette is coming.

"So the meet is actually going to be a pretty good little meet. The [400] relay in particular, three of the top five finishers, or three of the top five teams at the Drake Relays are going to be at the meet this weekend, so that certainly should be a very hot event, I think, as well as some of the sprints and the middle distance races should be very good. So with the good weather, I think there are going to be a lot of good performances. And come on out and see what's happening."

Do you like where your team is right now as you prepare? I mean, obviously the Big Tens and then the NCAAs after that, do you like where you're sitting right now? I notice the rankings, they say you're going to score 19 points at the national meet.

"I'm certainly hoping we're going to score more than 19. That's where they have us ranked now. I think that'll probably change after this weekend. Simon alone may have something to say with that. Yeah, I'm pleased with where we are, particularly with our up-front runners; our athletes that are kind of the leaders in their respective events.

"I think that we do need to have some of the other athletes step up that are not leaders in their events, because that's been the mainstay of our team and been the strength of our team, has been the depth. And I think we've got some work to do there, to be where we need to be in two weeks."


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