By Greg Garno, For the Daily
Published February 5, 2012
Michigan's men’s track and field coach Fred LaPlante may have more depth on his squad this season than he originally thought.
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At the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational on Friday and Saturday, LaPlante and his squad walked away with a number of positives, including a surprise finish from a team of young runners. The distance medley relay team of sophomore Nathan Karr, redshirt freshman James Yau, freshman Brian Snyder and freshman Dan Martin took second place with a time of 9:54 in a field including Ohio State and Indiana.
“They got second in a fairly good field,” LaPlante said.
LaPlante rested redshirt sophomore Bradley James, redshirt sophomore Ethan Dennis, and redshirt senior Craig Forys during the non-scoring Notre Dame Invitational in preparation for the upcoming SPIRE Invitational in Geneva, Ohio. A good indicator of how the Wolverines will fare against stiff competition from the Big Ten and SEC, the Invitational requires a well-rested squad.
“Next week is really a big deal for us, and we’ll have all of our best guys competing,” LaPlante said.
Sophomore Herman Washington and junior Jack Greenlee though, both set lifetime bests in their respective events, the hurdles and pole vault, during the weekend.
Washington, who has consistently finished near the top of each of his races, had another fantastic performance. His time of 8.00 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles was only hundredths of a second better than his last, but hundredths of a second turns out to be several feet in this event.
Washington, though, did not begin the meet on a good note, as he barely qualified for his second record-setting run. Washington wasn’t pleased with his first performance, but realized that he had bounced back nicely.
“I felt like my start (of the meet) was pretty bad, but then I ended up adjusting and was able to bounce back,” Washington said. “But I reacted well and I felt more comfortable on the steps in the end.”
Washington is aware of how he has maintained success throughout the season though, and what he must continue to do.
“I feel my focus this year is more competing rather than running for time,” Washington said. “When I think about trying to run a certain time, there’s a lot more pressure on me. I end up trying to run faster, then I realize that I’m trying to beat the person in the lane next to me.”
Greenlee, a junior pole vaulter, has also set multiple personal records early in the season, and his jump of 16 feet, 11 inches was another feat in a successful season. Though for Greenlee, this personal best was somewhat bittersweet, as he was unable to reach his goal of 17 feet.
LaPlante noted that despite Greenlee’s inability to clear 17 feet, he is still proud of his work ethic and ability to finish against some strong competition.
“I think he’s very determined,” LaPlante said. “I like his attitude because he is a true competitor. I don’t think he fears anybody and I think he knows he has to work hard to do well.”
Greenlee is optimistic after Saturday’s performance though, as he finds himself in prime position for this month’s Big Ten Championships.
“I think I have another big personal record left within me,” Greenlee said. “If I can hit that at the right time … I can take care of the Big Ten (Championship) meet.”
LaPlante knows that every track meet is worthwhile though, even when his stars aren’t competing.
“Any time you go to a meet in the sport of track and field, something good always happens,” LaPlante said. “Somebody always has to do something well and sometimes there’s not always a guy at the top of the heat, but there’s always a way to build confidence.”