Oct. 25, 2006
Top-ranked Wisconsin is looking for its record-tying eighth consecutive Big Ten Championship this Sunday, Oct. 29, when all 10 conference cross country squads converge at the Indiana Cross Country Course in Bloomington, Ind., on the campus of Indiana University.
The 8,000-meter race will take place at 11:30 a.m. ET, following the women's Big Ten Championship at 10:45.
The Badgers, who are the defending national champions, posted a near-perfect finish and Big Ten record 16 points last year as they placed five of the top-six runners en route to the conference title. Two years ago, UW placed seven of its runners in the top 21, but last year put eight in the top nine spots. Wisconsin also boasted the largest margin of victory in Big Ten history last year with an 85-point win over Ohio State. The Hoosiers placed second with 101 points, followed by Minnesota in third with 102.
The Golden Gophers enter the race ranked 14th in the latest USTFCCCA Top 30 Poll, followed by No. 17 Iowa and No. 18 Michigan, which placed fourth and fifth, respectively, last year. Michigan State and Ohio State are currently receiving votes.
A new Big Ten individual champion will be crowned this year as gone is three-time conference and two-time national champion Simon Bairu of Wisconsin. Senior Chris Solinsky enters as the race favorite after placing third in his freshman season in 2003 and runner-up to Bairu the past two seasons. Wisconsin has claimed seven individual titles in the past eight years and 25 overall to go along with 39 total team titles. The Badgers' total nearly exceeds the next four teams combined with 40 - Michigan State (14), Indiana (13), Michigan (9) and Minnesota (4).
Badger mentor Jerry Schumacher earned his fifth consecutive Big Ten Coach of the Year award in 2005, which tied the conference record with former UW coach Martin Smith (1989-91-92-94-95-96).
This year's event marks the sixth occasion Indiana has hosted the men's Big Ten Championship. The Hoosiers first hosted in 1921, when Illinois captured the team title. In fact, of the five previous championships held at Indiana, Wisconsin has claimed first-place the past three times (1978-87-96), while Minnesota won the other remaining event in 1969. UW also claimed victory last year in Bloomington when the Badgers captured the NCAA Great Lakes Regional title.