A week after a relatively easy team victory and racing to a perfect team score in its first meet of the season at Northern Illinois University Invitational, the Wisconsin women’s cross country team, ranked 13th in the USTFCCCA Preseason National Rankings, returns to action this weekend at Iowa State University.While their initial meet offered challenges of its own, such as rain and atrocious course conditions, this weekend’s meet will see the Badgers go toe-to-toe with some national powerhouses, including the Colorado Buffaloes, ranked No. 6 in their region and No. 23 nationally. They will also face off against Oklahoma State, which is also ranked No. 6 in its respective region. UW head coach Jim Stintzi notes the course should be rather challenging. “The course should be pretty tough at ISU, with the earlier stages of the race being fairly flat, but with hills kicking in during the second half of the race when all the runners will be the most fatigued,” Stintzi said. “It should be a good preview of the course layouts for some of our bigger meets down the road, such as the Big Ten Championships, the Great Lakes Regional Meet and the National Meet.”Stintzi believes the team’s ability to react to poor conditions at NIU and still race well will suit it well when adverse weather strikes later on in the season and is happy his team had to overcome such an event early on. Stintzi also believes the Badgers will be rolling into their meet in Ames, Iowa with some confidence.When discussing what he hopes the team will take out of its opener at NIU, Stintzi said they need to compete as a unit, rather than against each other.“Running as a team needs to improve, as each runner ran too much as an individual,” Stintzi said. “This is common early on in the season when everyone is fighting for a spot on the traveling squad. … We need to learn how to run with more a pack mentality and work together as a cohesive unit in races.”Individually, junior top runner Hanna Grinaker has multiple goals for this meet. “On an individual level, I would like to get a better feel for cross country racing, as last week was far from typical as far as weather and course conditions go,” Grinaker said. “I hope to be near the front of the race, maintain a positive mindset throughout the race and contend for a top spot overall.”Grinaker is also excited about the team’s chemistry as the season progresses. “The team is gelling extremely well,” Grinaker said. “All of the girls are really close and extremely positive people. We all genuinely want the best for one another.”Senior Gwen Jorgensen sees the meet as a huge steppingstone for the team and an early progression gauge. “Each meet builds in importance from here,” Jorgenson said. “Pre-Nationals, Big Tens, Regionals and Nationals. Saturday will be a good test in determining our potential as a team come November.” While the meet on Saturday will not make or break the Badger’s season, it will be a huge day for the talented freshman class to prove itself under the heat of tough competition as well as a chance for Coach Stintzi to see what his team is made of. The Badgers will be thrown into the fire this week at ISU and hope to walk away calloused and tough, prepared for even tougher battles that lie ahead.
The 2000 Ballon d’Or winner Figo, wielding a cricket bat in a nod to the game’s popularity in Pakistan, told reporters in the southern port city of Karachi that he was “excited” to be there.“There is a great promise of football in Pakistan so we are here to help develop the game,” said Figo, who also played for Barcelona before retiring in 2009.Kaka, himself carrying a cricket ball, said the pair were “committed” to promoting football globally.“We … have a good impression of Pakistan,” added the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner, who also played for AC Milan and retired in 2017.Cricket is king in the South Asian country of more than 200 million people, but younger generations adore the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Luca Modric © AFP / ASIF HASSANPakistan boasted a top 10 place in Asian football until the early 1970s, but a lack of government support and poor infrastructure have seen them sink to 199 in the FIFA rankings.Pakistan was banned in 1995 and again in 2017 over violating FIFA’s rule that all federations must be free of any government and judicial interference in their respective countries.The most recent ban was lifted in 2018, but Pakistan is on the verge of a third strike after the head of its federation refused to accept the results of a controversial leadership election held last month.Cricket is king in the South Asian country of more than 200 million people, which has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup.But a 2017 visit by eight international stars led by Brazilian legend Ronaldhino proved the game is gaining popularity, with younger generations adoring the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Luca Modric.Figo and Kaka backed FIFA’s stance of increasing the number of World Cup teams from 32 to 48 in the 2026 event to be co-hosted by the US, Mexico and Canada.It means “more players and more opportunities”, Figo said, while Kaka hoped Pakistan would seize the chance and appear in the World Cup “soon”.Pakistan football team captain Saddam Hussain also met Figo and Kaka, while a host of young fans received autographs and took selfies with the two players.The two stars will also visit Lahore later Thursday, and are expected to return for exhibition matches and coaching clinics from April 23-26 this year.0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Portuguese great Luis Figo (L) and Brazilian star Ricardo Kaka (R) were in Pakistan as part of the World Soccer Stars tour © AFP / ASIF HASSANKARACHI, Pakistan, Jan 10 – Portuguese great Luis Figo and Brazilian star Kaka Thursday vowed to help develop the “great promise” of football in Pakistan, a country obsessed with cricket and twice banned from international soccer.The two legends — who both played for Spanish club Real Madrid — are in Pakistan for a day-long visit as part of the World Soccer Stars tour, aimed at grooming nascent talent through exhibition matches and coaching clinics.
Drake University women’s soccer’s Sarah Grace Nicolson (Overland Park, Kan.) has been selected to the 2015 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Women’s Division I & II Scholar All-North/Central Region Second Team. Nicholson, the 2015 Missouri Valley Conference Defender of the Year and an All-MVC First Team selection, played in 16 matches in 2015. She scored one goal and handed out three assists. Nicholson earned her first-ever MVC Scholar-Athlete first team honor and owns a 3.73 grade point average in management and marketing.Print Friendly Version