Sophomore runner takes on leadership role

first_imgIn only his second year on the University of Wisconsin men’s cross country team, Landon Peacock has become one of the top runners for the nationally ranked UW squad.This past weekend, Peacock posted the fastest time of any Badger, finishing third overall as No. 5 Wisconsin destroyed the competition, winning the Paul Short Invitational.Head coach Mick Byrne talked about the performance of his team and of Peacock.“Understand what we did on Friday,” Byrne told his team after their meet. “Don’t downplay the fact that we beat some good teams, and we beat them well.”The Badgers expect a lot from their team this season, and Peacock is an important component to their program. Byrne cites confidence and each member knowing his role on the team as the keys to individual success.“[Landon] is in the spot where he knows he’s not just playing a supporting role but is certainly going to be in that leadership role,” Byrne said.Peacock’s coach also knows how helpful it is for everyone to know that their top guys are in the top spots throughout a race.“The guys up front are doing their job,” Byrne said. “All [the others] have to do is to do their job: Run hard and don’t panic.”In his first season at UW, Peacock redshirted. But since he also runs track for UW, he still has a lot of experience and time spent with his teammates.“We’ve got a lot of younger guys on the team, so when you’ve been around for a while, you’re going to be the one looked up to,” Peacock said. “We didn’t graduate anyone last year. We have all the same guys, and we’re all more fit than we were last year.”Byrne praised his team’s confidence as their biggest strength, but Peacock has stood out because of his maturity at such an early stage in his career.“I think it’s just his confidence is on another level,” Byrne said of his star. “And that’s half the battle.”Byrne did not dismiss Landon’s great athleticism and determination, however.“He’s focused on improving right now. But he’s just running off pure strength,” Byrne said. “He can be an impact guy on our national team, and he’s certainly going to run with the big guys.”Peacock said he built his confidence from the races he ran as a freshman and from feeling relaxed and comfortable on a cross country course.“The first year is definitely getting used to college running,” Peacock said. “You go from being the top dog [in high school] to being put back in your place. Also, I’m a little weird [of] a runner in the way that my body feels more relaxed running on a cross country course through hills and grass than it does on a flat track.”There was still a team focus for Peacock though, especially with the upcoming meets for the Badgers.“The goal for the big races is to win it,” Peacock said. “We just expect to win. … We most generally do.”The Badgers do, in fact, generally win. The men’s team has won the last nine Big Ten Championships and have their eyes set on number 10 this year. But the ultimate goal is always competing in and winning nationals.“The goal has always been to run well at the national meet,” Byrne said. “That’s just the mentality the team has always had.”“Each year we have a shot at nationals,” Peacock echoed.Peacock placed 74th overall in his first NCAA Championship last year and is confident he will improve on that mark this season.“I expect to get a little bit further each year,” Peacock said. “I’ll definitely place higher in nationals than last year. I’m definitely more fit. I’d like to be All-American this year.”His coach has no problem with Peacock’s attitude.“The confidence is what it’s all about,” Byrne said.last_img

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