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November 18, 2013

Mick Byrne

THE MODERATOR:  The men's and women's cross country teams both qualified for the NCAA Championships on Saturday in Terre Haute.  For the men, it is their 42nd consecutive NCAA appearance as a team, while the women are making their 25th appearance overall.
Director of cross country and track and field Mick Byrne is here.  We'll have opening comments and take questions.
MICK BYRNE:  First of all, before we get into questions, I'd like to congratulate Coach Trask and Coach Tiemeyer on the men's soccer team for making it into the NCAA meet.  It's great news.  We were all at the announcement this morning.  It was awesome to see our student‑athletes and our coaches.  A good job, Coach Trask.
We're very excited, both Coach Stintzi and I, having both teams advance to the NCAA meet this weekend.  We're one of 15 programs in the United States that advanced both teams, men and women's, and only three Big Ten teams.
So that was a great job last Saturday on our women's side.  They really had their backs up against the wall.  We knew we had to go in there and beat Ohio State and Indiana, two teams that had beaten us at the Big Ten meet.
Our women showed great poise, great maturity, and a lot of patience out there on Saturday.  Emma‑Lisa Murphy leading that group did a fantastic job up front, staying up with the leaders, and leading this team into the NCAA meet.  That's a great job.
On the men's side, making it for the 42nd year, consecutive year, that's also very exciting.  Just think of the tradition of the program.  And we were excited we were able to get one back on Indiana who beat us at the Big Ten meet.  Just came up a little bit short on Michigan.

Q.  To put it into perspective, going to that meet 42 years in a row, is that something that other programs do?  Because it just sounds like crazy longevity.
MICK BYRNE:  I don't know if it's something that other programs do.  I'm sure that, if you go down through the history of the meet, you'd certainly see names like Arkansas, Colorado, perhaps Stanford up there.  Just to be‑‑ I think we stand out alone with the record, 42 consecutive appearances.
Just speaks again to the tradition that we have here at the University of Wisconsin.

Q.  On the men's side, is that the best meet you ran this past Friday?  And can you run better than Terre Haute?
MICK BYRNE:  I'm not sure if it's the best meet.  Every time you come away from a meet, you learn something.  We had one or two guys that‑‑ Malachy Schrobilgen lost his shoe, and that certainly didn't help.  We thought that Malachy was going to get up front.  That was his job as the leader of this team.  But again, a freshman, you don't know what's going to happen in an environment like that.
There's certainly room for improvement.  Coming out of the meet, we said to the guys, look, good job.  We thought that we were in there with a shot to win.  When you look at the point spread between four teams, I don't think that's happened at any other region around the country.
Yeah, it's close, and it's going to be close this weekend, when you look at Michigan and Indiana, if you just take our Big Ten teams.  But there's 31 teams in the nation going to the meet, and anything can happen.

Q.  As far as preparations for this week, do you prepare for the course, or do you prepare your kids for the traffic and race strategy more than that?
MICK BYRNE:  I think a bit of both.  We watched the meet from Terre Haute live yesterday afternoon, and they got dumped with three inches of rain yesterday morning.  That course looked pretty beat up from what I saw yesterday afternoon.  I don't know if it's going to dry out much the next couple of days.  So we have to prepare for that.  That certainly presents some challenges.
Again, you're preparing also for the fact that you're running against 31 of the best teams in the country, the best athletes in the country.  And you have to prepare‑‑ first of all, recover from that weekend, but also prepare mentally for that.  At the National Championships, anything can happen.
I've always said you look down that line, and some kids can handle it, and some coaches can handle it or can't handle it.  It's just a matter of‑‑ it's a different beast altogether.
So as far as we're concerned, the big thing for us this week is to recover.  The guys seemed to have done a good job with that.  We met yesterday, and they looked pretty good.
It's just getting mentally and physically prepared for what's coming down the road here.

Q.  You talked last week about not really having a leader kind of shine on the women's team.  Has Emma‑Lisa Murphy become that leader?
MICK BYRNE:  Yeah, it appears that Emma‑Lisa seems to be the point.  The way she got out front with the leaders on Friday is incredible.  She's only a redshirt freshman, and to be able to handle that is a great job.
Unfortunately, Gabby didn't have a great run, and the expectation is that Gabby can run with Emma‑Lisa, but the other four girls, they're very young, and the fact that they were able to run with such poise I think speaks volumes for where they've come over the last two or three meets.  They struggled at the Big Ten and went into Saturday's race knowing exactly what they had to do, and that was to beat Indiana and Ohio State, and they did a great job with that.
The four girls ran together for the first 4k and there was no separation between them, and that was exciting to see that.  They seemed to understand the concept and the benefit of running together as a team.
Yes, Sarah over the last 1k did break away from them and ran great, and then, freshman, she's going to be very good down the road.

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