BY MATT RUDNITSKY
For the Daily
Published March 21, 2010
Let the outdoor games begin.
This past Friday and Saturday, the Michigan men’s track and field team opened its outdoor season by sending two throwers and two decathletes to the Miami Hurricane Invitational and Decathlon. Escaping to the 75-degree Miami sun, the Wolverines managed a second-place finish amongst the six-team field.
Michigan's showing was highlighted by a first-place finish by senior thrower Brendan Lodge in the four-person hammer throw. Lodge's throw went 56.77 m, or 186 ft and 3 inches. Fellow senior thrower Grant Till took third in the javelin with a throw of 53.34 m, or 175 feet.
But it wasn't all fun and games for the throwers. On Till’s second throw, he felt some pain in his elbow and was forced to stop throwing. Assistant coach David Kaiser was unsure of the extent of the injury.
Michigan’s decathletes — junior tri-captain Frank Shotwell and sophomore Kurt Reichenbach — both had strong showings at times, but were derailed by inconsistency throughout the 10 events. Shotwell had a commanding lead after the first five events on Friday, grabbing first in all of them. He continued his dominance with a first-place 110- meter hurdles time, but he failed to score points in either the discus throw or the pole vault. Reichenbach didn’t win a single event, but had better luck, with a third overall finsish. Shotwell finished fourth.
“It was not a good day,” Shotwell said. “It was the worst of my decathlon days so far. The idea of this meet was to come out here and knock a bit of the rust off; we haven’t done any technical practice since Big Tens. So, in four of the events we competed in, we hadn’t practiced in four weeks. It was good for us to get a decathlon in. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve just got to get better physically, and definitely mentally.”
Despite his struggles, Shotwell is optimistic for his prospects this outdoor season.
“Personally, I missed outdoors last year with an injury." Shotwell said. "I’m not where I was when I did really well in 2008, but I just really want to be competitive and know that I can still be the best in the conference. And one of my main goals is to make it to the U.S. National meet, the top level I can get to.”
Kaiser expects big things from not only Shotwell, but also his teammate, junior Robert Peddlar.
“Robert Peddlar is the Big Ten champ in the long jump,” Kaiser said. “And I expect him to be the Big Ten champ in the long and triple jump outdoors; he’s talented enough to do that.”
Also, senior Sean Pruitt is expected to grab the spotlight.
“Sean has had a difficult time over the last five years,” Kaiser said. “He’s been trying to carry the load for the throwers; he throws the shot, discus, and hammer. It’s hard to be great in all three at the same time, but I would say anything less than two Big Ten titles in the throws this year, his last year with us, would be a disappointment. I know he wants all three, but I don’t think that’s ever happened in Big Ten history.”
Next week, Michigan will return to the track in Houston, Texas, at the Rice University Bayou Classic, which starts on Friday and ends Sunday. Many of the runners will open their seasons at this meet, and it will serve the same purpose as the Miami Hurricane Invitational: shake off the rust and get acclimated to the outdoor events.