4×400 team eyes Big Ten title

first_imgLooking over at Wisconsin’s 4×400 team preparing to race in the last event at the track meet, the scene may startle you. It looks more like something out of a Mel Brooks comedy than a race.With all the tension and pressure to represent Wisconsin and perform well at the same time, the four members of the relay medley — seniors Joe Detmer, Scott Hogseth, junior Chad Melotte and true freshman James Groce — are smiling and cracking jokes.”You look around at other teams and they seem serious, and we’re sitting around, goofing around,” Hogseth said.But Wisconsin’s 4×400 is just out to have a good time and to run at the same time. Not to worry though, when the race nears, the joking stops and the team focuses in on what it needs to accomplish.”When it comes race time we become serious and focus on what we need to do,” said Hogseth.Part of their easy-going attitude comes from the fact that they are so close both on and off the field.”All our friends are mainly track guys, track people and we’re kind of fortunate to have that situation as a team,” Melotte said. “We have an awesome team chemistry, so being friends outside of track is not a big deal, it just kind of happens because we get along so well on the track.”As much as they get along, Groce generally finds himself watching from the sidelines — so-to speak — because he’s a freshman.”They don’t call me,” Groce joked. “I sit at home and watch MTV’s ‘Yo Mamma.'”I see them enough in practice.”Despite being left out by his medley teammates off the field, the rest of the guys are very pleased to have the true freshman Groce running third in the 4×400 for them. Typically true freshman redshirt their first season in track.Groce chose not to and was immediately placed in the 4×400 medley at such an early stage in his collegiate career. This quick move exemplifies the confidence his coaches have in his abilities as a runner.Even though the track season is heading into its fourth month, Groce still hasn’t fully grasped the idea that he’s a Big Ten runner.”It never really hits me until a big meet,” Groce said. “When you get to the race and you look around and see all the big names and stuff — and people are like ‘Oh, that’s Wisconsin,’ so they’re going to expect you to do a little something, that’s when it hits you.””I’ve got a lot of expectations for myself, I just want to live up to the hype [and] don’t want to be a fluke.”Although he struggled to find himself, falling behind the top runners during the indoor season, Groce has found his groove outdoors. As to be expected, his elder teammates take all the credit for his recent success.”I’d like to think that I’ve taught [James] everything he knows,” Detmer said. “But some people might not agree with that.”While Groce has been a mainstay in the 4×400, some of the other legs have switched around. Melotte has suffered from tight hamstrings on a few occasions and Detmer focused on other events during the indoor season, so the line-up from meet-to-meet wasn’t always the same. Despite the uncertainty sometimes regarding the line-up, the guys have no difficulty gelling. “You know what you’re going to get out of each person,” Groce said. “You know when we put us four together, we’re probably going to get the fastest time, but [that aside], we pretty much know what we’re going to get when you put other people on the team.”A more recent example of Wisconsin having to switch their line-up was at last weekend’s invitation in Cedar Falls, Iowa, when Melotte sat out with a hamstring pull. The result was a third-place finish behind Wisconsin’s ‘B’ team and the University of Northern Iowa’s ‘A’ team. “It was kind of a depressing situation to lose to our ‘B’ guys, but we’ve got to take it as it is,” Detmer said. Regarding the remainder of the season, these Wisconsin runners are looking to drop a few seconds on their time to give themselves a shot at nationals. But with a really tough region and only three available spots, the men’s 4×400 team sets their eye on a different prize — the Big Ten Title. “With Illinois redshirting two of their main 400 runners this year outdoors, we have a really good shot to go and win the 4×400 Big Ten Title,” Melotte said. “But ultimately, representing well at regions [is our goal]. If we made it to nationals that’s awesome, but our main focus is the Big Ten Title along with getting the Big Ten Championship as a team.”Whatever falls in behind that is awesome.”last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *