By Neal Rothschild, Daily Sports Writer
Published January 17, 2011
It’s not just the football team.
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The Michigan men’s track and field team is also struggling to earn a victory against Ohio State. The Wolverines fell, 88-74, in Columbus on Saturday to the Buckeyes in "The Dual" for the third straight time.
Although Michigan had a winner in just six of the 15 events, the decisive ones came down to a matter of inches and fractions of a second.
“There’s a sting about it,” Michigan coach Fred LaPlante said after the meet. “But really, I was actually encouraged by our team’s performance.”
In the 60-meter dash, junior Robert Peddler lost to Ohio State’s Demoye Bogle by .01 seconds, causing a four-point swing. Freshman Justin Clarke’s disqualification in the 200-meter dash cost the Wolverines another two points. Tight finishes in a handful of other events made the difference in the final result of the meet.
“If that had turned around, the score basically would have been even,” LaPlante said. “It wasn’t like we were outclassed or they pulled away from us. It was a great competition. There were a couple of instances where our guys really rose to the occasion. We didn’t back down.”
The beginning of the meet was not short on flair. In the first event of the day, redshirt freshman Ethan Dennis leapfrogged five Buckeyes to win the 35-pound weight throw. Down six feet at one point, Dennis threw a personal-best 65 feet and seven and three-quarters inches to take first place and gain five points for the Wolverines to kick off the rivalry matchup.
Shortly after, sophomore Jack Greenlee pole vaulted a personal best and meet record, 16 feet and eight and three-quarters inches. Greenlee broke the previous high in “The Dual” by eight inches in a showdown with Ohio State freshman Cody Marshall.
But the Buckeyes stormed back with wins in the 400 meter, 600 meter, 800 meter and one mile runs to put Ohio State ahead.
“Other than those races, the other events were very well contested and we gave it our best shot,” LaPlante said. “I think our guys will be better a few weeks from now.”
Following the mile, senior Carl Buchanon set a record for "The Dual" in the 60-meter hurdles, putting up a time of 7.90 seconds. Redshirt senior Nick McCampbell took second in 8.01 seconds to give Michigan five and three points, respectively.
“I think I’ve become more aggressive,” Buchanon said after setting his personal best in the race. “My technique is getting more crisp in my fourth year. This being my last season, that has a lot to do with it too.”
Redshirt junior Craig Forys also gave the Wolverines a boost, winning the 3,000 meters by over 15 seconds at eight minutes and 17.62 seconds. “Track and Field News” listed him as the top collegiate runner in the event.
But, despite the strong individual performances, Michigan fell short to Ohio State in a few crucial events.
The atmosphere for the meet was different from what is found in most track competitions. With a big crowd from host Ohio State replete with a pep band, there was an added liveliness in French Field House.
“Track and field usually doesn’t have this type of hoopla,” LaPlante said. “There was a lot of energy in that meet and our guys stood tall and really competed.”
Unlike football where the rivalry game caps the regular season, a loss to Ohio State in track leaves plenty of time for improvement. Though the meet won’t sit well with the Wolverines, they can take solace in that the team has yet to peak. The athletes train to set their best marks in the late-season conference and national meets, giving them four meets to better their times, distances and heights.
“You’re not fine-tuned, but neither is the other team,” LaPlante said. “So it’s just a competition of where you are at this time in your training and your level of competitiveness in that situation."