- Nicholas Williams/Daily
BY NATE SELL
Daily Sports Writer
Published January 23, 2013
In 1982, Bo Schembechler was head coach of the Michigan football team, and Jim Harbaugh was just a freshman. This was the last time the Michigan men’s track and field team met Michigan State in a dual meet. Now, Bo has passed, Harbaugh is preparing to coach the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl against his older brother, and Michigan is preparing to finally race head-to-head with the Spartans again.
This dual meet has garnered so much hype that the event is taking place at Grand Valley State’s Kelly Family Sports Center in Allendale, Mich. to ensure that there will be enough room for spectatators. The facility seats 800 people — much more than the track buildings in Ann Arbor or East Lansing — and a sellout is expected.
The Wolverines and Spartans have met in triangular meets only three times since their last dual, most recently in 1999. Both teams are excited to finally lace up and meet on the track after their long hiatus.
“They are all looking forward to it, as is State,” said Michigan coach Fred LaPlante. “That’s what will make it a good meet.”
Senior Aaron Taylor echoed LaPlante’s message.
“We all just want to beat them so much,” he said.
Saturday, the Wolverines have a chance to make their mark on the rivalry. The Wolverines have dominated the Spartans historically, with a record of 27-2-1 in past meetings — including a 19-2-1 record in true dual meets.
This will only be Michigan’s second meet of the season and the first one that will be scored. The team is looking forward to the level of competition that comes with a dual meet.
“You have to hold serve in every event,” LaPlante said. “You don’t want to get slammed in any event so you’re trying to avoid them going one-two in anything. Every guy on the team matters.”
One phase of the meet that Michigan will expect a big performance in is shot put, an event where the Wolverines finished with the top three places in their non-scored opening meet. Redshirt sophomore Cody Riffle was the leader of this group, throwing 17.82 meters. Riffle is currently ranked third in the Big Ten.
Michigan has five other athletes ranked in the Big Ten’s top eight, and the team will be counting on them Saturday. This group includes junior Justin Clarke in the 60-meter dash, Taylor in the 200-meter dash, junior Herman Washington in the 60-meter hurdles, redshirt junior Bradley James in high jump and redshirt junior Ethan Dennis in weight throw.
Though the hype will be aplenty — even for spectators and coaches — the Wolverines don’t plan on doing anything different leading up to the meet.