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BADGERING MICK BYRNE » DIRECTOR OF CROSS COUNTRY AND TRACK & FIELD After leading the Wisconsin men's cross country team the past five years, Mick Byrne was appointed as the Director of Cross Country and Track & Field for the newly combined men's and women's programs. Besides taking the reins of the highly successful men's program from longtime head coach Ed Nuttycombe, Byrne now oversees the seventh combined program in the Big Ten, which opens its season this weekend with the Badger Indoor Open on Friday and a dual meet vs. Missouri on Saturday at The Shell. "I'm up for the challenge. It's a completely different beast as we are a combined program. Not only has our own program changed, but the environment has changed in the Big Ten and the NCAA. There are more combined programs now in the Big Ten, and the Big Ten has become a powerful conference with five men's teams from the Big Ten in the top 12 of the national rankings. The pendulum has swung, and it's become a different conference." What are your thoughts on replacing a legend in Ed Nuttycombe? "It has been exciting and interesting. Every new adventure you have to iron out a few wrinkles. It's been a learning process. I think the biggest challenge has been how figuring out how you get such a large team from Madison to the West Coast or the East Coast. We compete outside of Wisconsin so much, especially during the track season. You are moving close to 70 kids and a staff across the country, and that has presented some challenges. In terms of the day-to-day coaching, we have a great staff and everyone is on board. That has made it a lot easier." How has the transition to one program gone? What are you looking forward to the most during the track and field season? "I think the travelling together with both teams. You have this incredible physical presence with the numbers. You look like a real track and field program, and that is exciting. We are coming off of a great season for the men last year with a third-place showing indoors and a top-15 finish outdoors. You always want to improve, and we believe we have a group on the men's side that we think is better. I hope that the women, now that they are with the men's team, get a feel for the winning philosophy and that it rubs off on them." "We are going to New York for the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, which is the first time we are making a big trip as a combined team. The women were at the meet a few years ago, and they raved about the experience. It's a good collegiate meet, and it sets us up for the Tyson Invitational the following week. Ultimately, everything we do for the next six weeks is in preparation for the Big Ten meet. It is about competing as a team at our conference meet." What indoor meet are you most looking forward to? 26 // VARSITY January 16, 2014 QUICK Q'S WITH MICK Memorial Union Favorite place on campus? Cadbury Crunchie Favorite candy? British alternative Favorite music? London or Edinburgh, Scotland Favorite place you've visited? Soccer Favorite sport besides track/XC: