As a team, the Michigan men’s track and field finished seventh out of 12 teams in the Big Ten Indoor Championships, but as individuals, the Wolverines put up a handful of impressive performances.
Redshirt junior Grant Cartwright won the weight throw event with a school-record mark, and while those highlights didn’t prevail throughout the team, they did provide bright spots.
“(It was) everything that I could have ever dreamed of happening in a competition,” Cartwright said. “It was just an incredible feeling. … Since I’ve been 5 years old and doing sports, that was probably the favorite moment I’ve ever had.”
Cartwright had started the competition with an underwhelming performance in the shot put — good for 10th place — but was able to bounce back with his record-breaking performance the next day.
In addition to Cartwright’s performance, redshirt sophomore Joe Ellis finished right behind him with a second-place finish in the weight throw, ensuring that the two Wolverines will compete in the NCAA Indoor Championships next weekend.
Ellis’ performance in the weight throw comes a few weeks after he set the program’s record in the weight throw of 22.11 meters, a record which Cartwright surpassed with his 23.21-9meter throw in Ohio.
“I suspected some big things, but who would have ever expected (this)?” said Michigan coach Jerry Clayton.
Cartwright and Ellis will be joined in the NCAA Championships by fifth-year seniors Steven Bastien and Ned Willig, giving Michigan its largest group of athletes competing since 2013.
Other solid performances by the Wolverines included sophomore Taylor McLaughlin’s sixth-place finish in both the 400-meter and 200-meter races, and a sixth-place mark in the 5,000-meter race by junior Aaron Baumgarten, who fell less than one second short of third place.
Despite a handful of good individual performances at the Big Ten Championship, Michigan was disappointed with its seventh-place finish. However, Clayton was encouraged by Cartwright and Ellis and stressed a thorough reassessment of the team’s performances as they prepare for the outdoor Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge in three weeks.
For now, the Wolverines counted on positive chemistry between the athletes, exemplified by Cartwright and Ellis.
“We’re literally brothers,” Cartwright said. “We do everything together. Without Joe, I don’t know where I’d be as an athlete.”
As they turn the page and focus on the NCAA Indoor Championships, Cartwright said he’s looking forward to the tournament despite the absence of many of his teammates and hopes to improve on the already-remarkable feat he accomplished over the weekend.