Wolverines finish third at Alex Wilson Invitational

Sunday, February 19, 2017 - 5:15pm

When it comes to qualifying, junior middle distance runner Brennan Munley isn’t afraid to be competitive under pressure. Having already proven himself to be the Michigan men’s track team’s top 800-meter runner, Munley entered the Wolverines’ final regular season meet in the hopes of using his speed to propel the distance medley relay to a qualifying time for the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Munley, the sole returner from last year’s record-setting DMR, was joined by fifth-year senior Ned Willig, sophomore Taylor McLaughlin and senior Connor Mora this past weekend at the Alex Wilson Invitational.

Despite fielding almost an entirely new DMR team, the talent of the four compares significantly to last year’s record setting group. Willig, currently ranked as the ninth-fastest mile runner in the nation, and McLaughlin hold Michigan’s 400-meter indoor school record. Acting as anchor for the relay, Mora has proven himself extremely competitive in his own right, positioning himself as the No. 22 mile runner in the nation.

But even with boasting such a capable team wasn't enough for Michigan, as Indiana took the top spot Saturday in South Bend, Ind. The Wolverines earned third place with a final time of 9:32.13, just on the fringes of a potential NCAA qualifying time.

“This week was our big week to run the DMR,” Munley said. “I think that one thing we learned is that we each have the capability to run very fast.”

Speed wasn’t just reserved for the DMR team Saturday, however, as freshman Desmond Melson, the Wolverine’s only other competitor on the day, sprinted to a career-best 48.94 in the 400-meter run to place eighth overall.

All of this success comes at an exciting time for the Wolverines, as they prepare for the Big Ten Indoor Championships next weekend. Michigan, with nine individuals ranked in the top-30 nationally across several events, is positioned to make an impact at the event.

Three-time first-team All American senior Steven Bastien will look to improve upon his fifth-ranked Heptathlon time, while senior captain Grant Cartwright and junior Joe Ellis will look to showcase their dominance as the No. 14 and No. 6 weight throwers in the nation, respectively.

As the indoor regular season officially comes to a close with Saturday’s events, the Wolverines will look to channel their talent and focus toward championship season.

“A lot of the guys are always pushing each other to make the right decision and do what everyone else on the team is doing,” Munley said. “It ends up being an atmosphere that fuels itself for the better.”

With so many top level performers taking center stage this upcoming weekend, Michigan realizes that its dedicated habits and work ethic will prove essential to its result in the Big Ten Championship.

“Every little thing matters,” Munley said. “It’s all about doing whatever you can to get as many points as you can and being competitive in the last 100 meters.”