Despite finishing at bottom, Wolverines move forward with confidence

By Kelly Hall, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 2, 2014

The Michigan men’s track and field team may have finished at the bottom of the conference Saturday at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, but the Wolverines were still able to find positives from their disappointing outing.

“Going into the meet, we knew that we were going to be a little bit short with the number of people that we had, but we scored more points than what we had on paper going in, and that was the goal,” said Michigan coach Jerry Clayton.

Despite what the final results actually do look like on paper, many of the athletes met their goals by setting personal records. Friday, redshirt sophomore Mason Ferlic and redshirt junior Morsi Rayyan finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 3,000-meter run. They both ran career-best times.

Staying with the trend, both redshirt freshman Chris Maye and redshirt sophomore Codie Nolan set a personal record of 6.89 seconds in the 60-meter dash. Redshirt senior Troy Sneller also ran a personal-best time of 49.64 in the 400-meter.

“The goal for the people that we took to meet was to try to finish higher than they came in ranked, and of course, the next goal was to try to set personal bests, and we were pretty successful,” Clayton said.

Michigan finished the first day of the two-day meet with 11 points, putting them in eighth place of 11 teams.

Seniors Erick Gavin and Herman Washington went on to compete at finals Saturday and finished in fifth and sixth place, respectively. They both set personal bests and finished .01 seconds apart with times of 7.91 and 7.92.

“Being able to train with someone on a high level every day really helps bring out the best of what I do,” Gavin said. “When he has an off day, I can pick up the slack and make him push more, and then when I have off days, he picks up the slack and makes me push more.”

Ferlic and Rayyan scored more points for the Wolverines Saturday in the 5,000-meter run. Ferlic set another personal record in the 5,000-meter with a time of 14:00.68.

“We had a good job by Mason and Morsi doubling,” Clayton said. “That’s a tough double, the ‘3’ and the ‘5,’ and they contributed to both of those events for us.”

Redshirt senior jumper Bradley James also earned points for Michigan Saturday by placing sixth in the high jump after clearing a height of 2.05 meters. Clayton expected a lot out of the senior group of James, Gavin and Washington, and the weekend they proved that they could be trusted with the future of the team.

“It’s important for us to try to get Michigan track and field back where it belongs, and they can be the start of that as they’re the seniors of this group,” Clayton said. “We were pleased to see them do well.”

Though the Wolverines are in a rebuilding process and finished in 11th place out of 11 teams, Clayton, who is in his first season of coaching at Michigan, remains confident.

“Obviously, we’re not pleased with where we’re at team-wise, but that’s a process we’re going to have to go through and move on from here,” Clayton said. “We’re just taking things a step at a time and trying to stay positive with where we’re at right now.”

The Wolverines aim to continue to make strides as they approach the end of their indoor season and look forward to the gains they can make outdoors.