UW senior Ahmed track All-American once again - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UW senior Ahmed track All-American once again

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EUGENE, Ore. -- In his final race as a Wisconsin Badger, Mohammed Ahmed accomplished a feat that the likes of Wisconsin legends Chris Solinsky, Matt Tegenkamp and Simon Bairu never accomplished -- earning first-team All-America honors in both the 5000 and 10,000 meters at the same NCAA championships.

Ahmed became only the second Badger to earn All-America accolades in the two distance races in the same season, as the senior finished fifth in the 5000 meters on Friday at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field.

Just two days after finishing third in the 10,000 meters -- his best placing at an NCAA meet -- Ahmed came back and narrowly missed a personal-best in the 5000. He crossed the line in 13 minutes, 28.45 seconds, the fastest time in program history at an NCAA meet.

“It was a good race for me,” Ahmed said. “We went after it, and that was my plan, to go out there and attack the race. I knew people were going to fall off, but there were a lot of great guys in that race. There were close to 10 guys who could have won the race if they were in contention. I put myself in contention, I fought hard and I gave it a valiant effort, and the last two laps they started gapping me and I tried to hold on as well as I could.”

Ahmed was in contention from the gun and joined the lead pack of Arizona’s Lawi Lalang, Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka and Oregon’s Edward Cheserek. It was familiar competition, as Kithuka and Cheserek were the only competitors to finish ahead of Ahmed in the 10,000.

The race picked up pace with just under a kilometer to go as Kithuka fell off of the lead and left Lalang, Cheserek and Ahmed in the front pack.

With under two laps to go, Lalang and Cheserek opened up a gap on Ahmed, and in the final 300 meters Oregon’s Trevor Dunbar and Eric Jenkins passed the Wisconsin senior. Lalang won a fantastic final sprint with Cheserek and both topped the meet record with times of 13:18.36 and 13:18.71, respectively.

“That was probably the greatest NCAA 5000 meters race ever,” Ahmed said. “To be in it and go out hard with those guys, and to still finish well (was great). It was a good double this week, third and fifth.

“Obviously, like every race right now, I’m going for the win and anything less than that is a disappointment. I ran well. If you put everything out there on the track and leave everything on the track, you have to be happy with it.”

“To come out there today off one day of recovery, after finishing third in the 10,000, to give it his all, to run his second-fastest 5000 meters, you can’t ask him to do anything more than that,” UW Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Mick Byrne said. “He wanted to win, he gave it his best shot. He came up short, but what a hero. In the fastest-ever 5000 meter final, he gave it his all.“

The finish also helped the Badgers move into fourth place in the team standings with 20 points -- of which Ahmed has been responsible for 10.

Before Ahmed, only James Menon had earned All-America honors in both the 5000 and 10,000 at the same NCAA meet for Wisconsin. He finished 11th in the 5000 and third in the 10,000 at the 1995 NCAA Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“It’s cool that I did that,” Ahmed said. “I’m the Wisconsin record holder in the 10,000, and thought I would be the 5000 record holder by this time. It’s a great honor as there’s great athletes in our history that weren’t able to accomplish that feat.”

Ahmed certainly ends his Wisconsin career as one of its best all-time athletes. The senior earned eight All-America honors during his five years in Madison, with five honors on the track and three accolades on the cross country course.

The Big Ten record holder in the 10,000 meters with a time of 27:34.64, Ahmed also ranks fourth in school history in the 5000 with a personal-best time of 13:28.02 set earlier this year at the Payton Jordan Invitational.

Ahmed won the 10,000 at the 2012 and 2013 Canadian championships, and finished ninth at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in 27:35.76. He also competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and finished 18th in the 10,000 meters.

“The Olympics was a huge goal of mine,” Ahmed said. “When I was a fifth grader, I was dreaming about going to the Olympics, and to accomplish that here and to go to the world championships and finish ninth is amazing.”

Ahmed led the Badgers to the 2011 NCAA cross country title with a fifth-place finish and helped Wisconsin win four Big Ten cross country titles, four NCAA Great Lakes Regional crowns and three Big Ten track titles.

This year, Ahmed was named the 2014 Big Ten Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year after he won his fifth Big Ten track crown. He also won the 2011 Big Ten individual cross country title and was named the conference’s athlete of the year for his efforts.

“I think if I hadn’t had come to Wisconsin, I wouldn’t know where my running career would be,” Ahmed said. “The tradition that we have and the tradition that we try to uphold all the time with the Big Ten titles and national titles gave me something to chase. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t come here.

“I think I had a great career. I finished a couple of times in the top five or six in cross country, indoors and outdoors. I have had a consistent progression, which is good.

“I not only had a great career, but a great education at Wisconsin. I will always be a Badger. I will always come back to Madison and visit Coach Byrne and everyone else. Now it’s time to look back, and I am very thankful and the journey I have had here. It was a great five years here.”

“He is going to go on and have a great career at the next level,” Byrne said. “We are going to miss him and all of the points he scores, but more importantly we are going to miss what he brings to the table every single time he put on a Wisconsin uniform. Those guys are hard to replace; he was my first recruit. I will miss him dearly, the team will miss him and we wish him the best in the future.”

Block ends tremendous career at NCAA championships

After a remarkable career at Wisconsin, senior Danny Block concluded his time at UW with an 18th-place finish in the discus.

After fouling on his first two throws, Block unleashed a heave of 182 feet, 2 inches, but it wasn’t enough to advance to the finals, which featured the top nine from the first round.

During his Wisconsin career, Block earned three All-America honors and was the 2012 Big Ten champion in the discus, helping Wisconsin win the conference title at the McClimon Track.

The school record-holder in the discus. Block also set the program record in the indoor shot put at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships en route to a third-place finish and helped the Badgers reach the podium in the process.

This season hasn’t lived up to Block’s expectations, as the Hanover Park, Illinois, native has dealt with a broken foot throughout the season. But the senior still earned All-America honors indoors and scored in both the indoor and outdoor conference championships to help the Badgers win both team titles.

“Danny, all season long, battled a bad foot and he braved through the season and got us some big points at the Big Ten meet,” Byrne said. “He was one of those go-to guys, and you need those guys for championship meets. Going into meets like the Big Ten and beyond, you knew he would give you something and score some points. The rest of the team feeds off guys like that.

“Whether it’s Reed Connor, Mohammed Ahmed, Michael Lihrman or Danny Block, you need those type of guys. They are the backbone of the team. They are those guys you can’t do without.

“He will have surgery next week and we hope he has a speedy recovery. He has a good career ahead of himself and hopefully he can get out there and competing soon.”

Alex Brill will wrap the meet up for Wisconsin on Saturday, as the senior looks for All-America honors in the steeplechase at 4:57 p.m. The race, along with all of the other running events on Saturday, can be seen live on ESPNU.

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