McDonald claims Big Ten 5000-meter crown at Big Ten Championship
For the fourth-time this season, Wisconsin men’s track and field standout Morgan McDonald is a Big Ten champion as the sophomore won the 5000 meters to lead the Badgers at the 2017 Big Ten Outdoor Championships on Sunday.
McDonald and senior Malachy Schrobilgen went 1-2 in the distance event, scoring 18 points in the process, to lead UW to a fourth-place team finish with 73 points.
“It’s impressive that he’s been able to win four Big Ten titles this year and five during his career at Wisconsin,” UW Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Mick Byrne said. “With brutal 20 to 25 mile per hour winds all afternoon, times became irrelevant. The manner that Morgan and Malachy broke the race open so early was impressive, given today’s conditions. For Malachy, hanging on for second place was huge for us and his 18 points scored over the weekend was a team high and very important for us. When we look back on his great career and look at the number of points he’s scored over the last five years, he is without doubt one of our all-time best performers at the Big Ten meet.”
“Obviously it’s super windy out here, but we thought the race was great,” McDonald said. “I wanted to make it quick and that’s what we did. We had Olin lead it out at the start and then had Malachy there and me trying to make it a quick race. We got after it and it was quick enough for me and Malachy to get first and second so I cannot be happier with that.”
The Badgers started the race strong, as freshman Olin Hacker led McDonald and Schrobilgen through the midway point of the race. McDonald and Schrobilgen traded the lead, a lead that McDonald would ultimately take for good in the last 200 meters of the race.
“On a personal level, it’s bittersweet for Morgan as he won the Big Ten title,” Byrne said. “But his time most likely won’t qualify him for the NCAA preliminary round. Morgan got a late start to the outdoor season and unfortunately today was his first 5000 meters of the year. Unfortunately, Mother Nature rained on Morgan’s parade and he may have to sit out the rest of the championship season. Our sport is brutal.”
Eric Brown also had a stellar performance in the 800-meter final. After going out strong in the first lap, the sophomore was picked at the line and placed fourth in 1:51.09 to earn five important team points.
“We have a saying to never underestimate the heart of a Badger,” Byrne said. “Eric Brown always runs with pure guts. He always finds a way and there’s nothing more a coach loves to see than an athlete giving it his or her all. Every time Eric runs he gives you everything he has.”
Despite windy conditions, the pole vault duo of Tim Guthrie and Rashid Coulibaly finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Both cleared 16-10 ¼, an outdoor personal record for Guthrie, and picked up seven points in the event.
“Our pole vaulters did a great job managing the wind out there today,” “They did not allow the wind to get into their heads. When someone gets a personal best in a championship meet you have to respect that and both guys did a great job to earn seven critical points.”
In the 1500-meter final, freshman Oliver Hoare earned an eighth-place finish with a time of 3:53.43 after qualifying with the second-fastest preliminary round time of 3:44.13.
“Tactically, Ollie made some mistakes out there today,” Byrne said. “I’m sure that he will learn from them and be better down the road. He’s only a freshman and has run 3:43 and he has the NCAA West Prelims to look forward to in Austin, Texas.”
For the third-straight day, junior Riley Budde scored in a throwing event as the Beaver Dam, Wis., native finished seventh in the discus. Budde launched the disc 179-1 to earn two points for UW.
“For three days in a row, Riley came out and competed real tough for us,” Byrne said. “He stepped up to the plate today and picked up two points after scoring four in both the shot put and discus.”
Fellow junior Josh McDonald was ninth with a toss of 175-6.
The UW 4×100-meter relay of Corbin Ellis, Lorenzo Larry, Alex Teague and Ryan Dundun won their section in 41.17 and placed sixth overall.
“We had four solid legs out there with clean exchanges,” said Byrne “Our relay team capitalized on some other teams’ errors in the exchange zone and picked up three points in the process.”
A breezy day on the track helped Larry to a 100-meter time of 10.48. The senior placed ninth in the finals.
Wisconsin closed out the 2017 Big Ten Outdoor Championships with a 10th place showing in the 4×400 relay. The team of Dundun, Teague, Ellis and Brown clocked in at 3:15.27.
“In this conference, you have to fight for every point,” Byrne said. “There are no soft points. Across the board, event by event, the level of competition was first class. In terms of performances, we expected a roller coaster ride all weekend. We had some outstanding performances with some surprises and a few disappointments.
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“Prior to the meet, I thought we could score 75 points, and was hoping this would be good enough for third or fourth place. We scored 73 and I’m not sure there were a lot more points out there for us. The roller coaster ride had us grabbing a bunch of unexpected points but like everyone else we lost a few where we had hoped to gain some. As a team, we have to not be complacent with this finish, learn from this experience and continue to work hard to be better.”
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