Despite dropping its final relay race on Saturday afternoon, Michigan and its fans were able to find one positive in the form of a unit that is hard to miss, both in their impact and physically imposing size.
The “Meat Factory,” a nickname affectionately given to the track and field team’s weight throwing competitors, notched the field’s top two positions.
Junior Joseph Ellis helped to pace the Wolverines, finishing with the furthest distance amongst the field on five of his six attempts, including one that traveled 22.55 meters to set a personal record and notch the longest shot recorded in the Big Ten this season.
“That’s a huge confidence booster,” Ellis said when informed his shot was a personal best.
Ellis’ teammate, senior Grant Cartwright, also had a big day, finishing in second place — just behind Ellis — to help earn a whopping 16 points towards their overall team score. When asked about Cartwright, Ellis spoke glowingly about his teammate.
“Grant’s been a phenomenal teammate and a phenomenal competitor,” Ellis said. “It means a lot to have a great competitor in him and get to train with him all the time.”
Michigan coach Jerry Clayton spoke highly of his weight-throwing team after their meet had concluded.
“They’re the nucleus of what we’re looking at in terms of the national level,” Clayton said.
It’s easy to see why Clayton made such a statement. The “Meat Factory” absolutely demolished their competition on Saturday, with both Ellis and Cartwright having tosses over 22 meters. They were also able to earn the maximum total of 16 points for the event, which featured Arkansas, Michigan State, and Ohio State.
“It’s a great opportunity to put yourself up against two other Big Ten schools,” Ellis said.
Ellis noted the team’s ability to earn a win the way that they were able to today is “huge” for the unit’s confidence.
The Wolverine faithful helped to create a fantastic turnout to support the track and field department’s various teams, with over 2,000 fans packing the newly-opened U-M Indoor Track Building to watch the meet.
“It was actually quite nerve-wracking,” Ellis said as he glanced up at the stands. “Some of my throws were off to the side when I was warming up (because I was so nervous).”
Yet, Ellis and the rest of the throwers still managed to perform. For that reason, the Wolverines know they can depend on the “Meat Factory,” expectations that Ellis says he feels.
“The team’s expecting a lot of us, but we expect a lot of ourselves,” Ellis said. They clearly met Clayton's expectations as well.
Added Clayton: “The marks at which they opened at were exactly at where we were expecting”
This win is a huge one for the Wolverines, and fans can only hope that the dominance of the "Meat Factory" can carry over to the rest of the team and ultimately lead to a successful 2018 campaign.