Distance running is the Hacker family business, and it’s Olin Hacker’s turn to take the reins.
The University of Wisconsin senior standout won the NCAA title in the 5,000 meters on Friday, competing at the outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon. It was the latest example of Hacker following in the footsteps of his father, Tim, who won the 1985 NCAA cross country championship as a member of the Badgers program.
“It means everything to have won this race,” Olin Hacker said afterward. “Talking to (coach) Mick (Byrne) beforehand, (he said) you just copy the moves and stay in it and you put yourself in a position to win, and I did that.
“Just to win was so unbelievable; I’m still in shock, but it means so much. This program has given me so much. It’s just the fairytale ending that I knew was a possibility and I knew this could be an amazing day. It’s just unreal to me.”
Olin already replicated one of his father’s feats, twice winning the WIAA cross country championship while competing for Madison West in 2013 and 2014. Tim did the same racing for Menomonee Falls North in 1979 and 1980. Uncle Jeff Hacker already had claimed two cross country titles for North in 1976 and 1977, and another uncle, Bill Hacker, followed suit in 1984 while running for Menomonee Falls High School.
Cousin Andrew Lacy won the Division 2 title for McFarland in 2004 and 2005.
In track, the Hackers won WIAA crowns in the mile (Jeff in 1978, Tim in 1981), 1,600 meters (Olin in 2015), 2 mile (Jeff in 1978) and 3,200 (Bill in 1985, Olin in 2014 and 2015).
Now, the Hacker legacy has gone multigenerational in college, too. Olin moved ahead of Michigan State’s Morgan Beadlescomb in the final 100 meters, crossing the line with his championship time of 13 minutes, 27.73 seconds. Beadlescomb took second in 13:28.38, and Nico Young of Northern Arizona was not far behind in 13:28.62.
It wasn’t the only facet of the distance running tradition that continued. UW has long been a hotbed of success on that front, most recently when Morgan McDonald won the 5,000 in 2019, following up his indoor titles in the 5,000 and 3,000 and his championship on Wisconsin’s home course in the 2018 cross country championships.
The native of Australia followed in the footsteps of past UW champions such as Oliver Hoare (2018, outdoor 1,500), Zach Ziemek (2016, indoor heptathlon), Chris Solinsky (five track championships from 2005-07, including 3,000 and 5,000) and Simon Bairu (2004 and 2005 cross country), as well as Alicia Monson in the indoor 5,000 meters in 2019, just to name a few. Georgia Ellenwood won the women’s outdoor heptathlon for UW in 2018, and Kelsey Card won the outdoor discus two years earlier.
The program’s all-time roster of star distance runners includes three-time individual national champion Stephanie Herbst, four-time individual champs Clare Eichner, Kathy Butler and Amy Wickus, five-time individual champ Cathy Branta and nine-time individual champ and racing legend Suzy Favor-Hamilton.
Another Badgers’ Australian, Adam Spencer, wrapped up his freshman season with an All-American performance of eighth place in the 1,500.
The Badgers women’s team also landed three All-Americans, all Wisconsin natives.
Destiny Huven (Nicolet) took sixth place in the 100-meter hurdles, crossing the finish line in 12.92 seconds, and Bianca Stubler (Sussex Hamilton) took sixth in the 400 meters in 56.49.
Alissa Niggemann (Amherst) finished the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:39.96, good for 11th and UW’s third All-American place finish.
The trio combined for six WIAA titles during their prep days, with Niggemann winning the 2015 Division 3 cross country title, Huven twice winning the 100 hurdles and contributing to a 400 relay crown and Stubler twice winning with her teammates in the 1,600 relay.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Olin Hacker wins 5,000 meters for Wisconsin Badgers, just like his dad