Zach Ziemek and Morgan McDonald earned their first individual conference indoor titles to push the University of Wisconsin men's track and field team to the first-day lead at the Big Ten Conference Indoor Championships in Geneva, Ohio.
Ziemek won the pole vault and took second in the long jump, while McDonald claimed the 3,000 meters as the Badgers wrapped up the first day of the two-day competition with 40 points, well ahead of defending champion Nebraska’s 23.
It will be difficult for UW to hold its position, however, given that the Badgers won’t have any competitors in four event finals today and do not have an athlete among the scoring seeds in the three field events to be contested.
Senior Austin Mudd posted the top qualifying time in the mile, while sophomore Lorenzo Larry qualified third in the 200. Larry also grabbed a spot in the 60 finals.
Ziemek, a senior, was an NCAA All-American in the heptathlon in 2013 and 2014, both years that he won the Big Ten decathlon crowns outdoors. He would've been among the favorites to win the heptathlon this weekend, but the coaching staff opted to put him in a couple of individual events instead.
“We decided that we could potentially get 30 points in three events or 10 points in the heptathlon," Ziemek said. "Whatever I can do to help the team out is what I tried to do.”
The native of Itaska, Illinois, went 17 feet, 5¾ inches to claim the pole vault. The senior is UW’s outdoor record-holder in the event. Sophomore Jake Wallenfang was fourth for the Badgers.
Ziemek lost out on another Big Ten crown by an inch and a half in the long jump, but shattered his own personal record by more than a foot with a leap of 25-1¼.
McDonald, a sophomore, won the 3,000 in 8 minutes, 3.83 seconds. He trailed Michigan's Mason Ferlic for much of the race before accelerating past his rival in the final 300 meters to grab the victory.
“It was a little bit of a tactical affair,” McDonald said. “It was still pretty quick though and there were a lot of people right up there at the front all the time. It came down to a big kick at the end. With about 250 meters to go, I decided that was my time to give it everything and it turned out to be enough.”