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Wolverines have strong showing in first road meet

By Greg Garno, For the Daily
Published January 29, 2012

Craig Forys doesn't see the need for a runner to take it easy in his first race coming off an injury. If he does, he didn't show it in his own return race this weekend.

The Michigan men's track and field team traveled to Annapolis, Md. for the Wesley A. Brown Invitational on Saturday. Forys, a redshirt senior and team captain, won the 5,000-meter run in his first meet back after an Achilles tendon injury with a time of 14:11, about 15 seconds slower than his personal record. Even more impressive was his final half-mile, which he ran in two minutes.

“It went out slow,” Forys said. “I kind of had to make up for that deficit early in the race and that’s kind of how that final 800 (meters) came about.”

The Wolverines went up against schools from the East Coast such as host Navy and Maryland. Michigan boasted some strong performances in various events in the invitational, which was non-scoring.

Michigan coach Fred LaPlante hasn’t had to worry about the high jump event so far this season, and Saturday was no different. LaPlante has relied on standout redshirt sophomore Bradley James, who cleared seven feet on his way to winning the event this weekend, besting the second-place finisher by seven inches.

After injuring his ankle last weekend at the Jack Harvey Invitational, James noted that it was still an issue going into Saturday's meet.

“I didn’t expect it to last past last Saturday,” James said. “It’s still kind of lingering, which is annoying, but nothing serious.”

And James wasn't finished at seven feet. To continue preparing James for the height he'll see at the National Championships, the bar was raised to 7-foot-2, but he was unable to clear it, despite his solid first jump.

“I thought I had it, honestly, but the bar came down with me,” James said. "I wasn’t quite satisfied with that, but it was still a pretty good jump that I managed to get.”

Redshirt sophomore Ethan Dennis set a meet record in the weight throw with a distance of 65 feet, 10 inches. Dennis has also been a constant in LaPlante’s young squad this season, though the thrower wasn’t impressed with his results on Saturday.

“I thought it was pretty solid, but I definitely left a couple meters off the throws,” Dennis said. “Hopefully in the next couple weeks I’ll be able to get those meters out there.”

LaPlante noted that Dennis' season is similar to his last, when he faced difficulties early but became stronger later on.

“(Dennis) had some ups and downs last year, but he certainly is an outstanding competitor,” LaPlante said. “At the end of last year, he really started becoming consistent.”

Along with Forys, junior distance runner Brandon Blacklaws stood out on Saturday, winning the mile with a personal and meet record of 4:04. But the meet was still highlighted by Forys, who was pleased with his first race of the season.

“It was a great season opener for me,” Forys said. “I closed with a really strong last mile, I think 4:30 or so, and I ran the last half mile on my own.”

Also winning events for Michigan were Justin Clarke in the 60-meter dash, Aaron Taylor in the 200-meter dash, and Herman Washington in the 60-meter hurdles.

The Wolverines will compete next weekend at the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational, where they hope to continue improving as they look forward to the Big Ten Championships.