When redshirt junior Steven Bastien was a freshman, he ran an 8.57 in the 60-meter hurdles. Last year, Bastien stagnated, knocking just .06 seconds off for a time of 8.51.
But this weekend, he cut off .13 seconds to a finishing time of 8.38 — good for third overall.
“I was really happy with the hurdles,” Bastien said. “I was at that plateau there for a while, so I just tried to be aggressive and just race and compete. I was really pleased. I’m excited to progress and let that motivation flow into my other events.”
As a multi-event athlete — he typically competes in the heptathlon and decathlon — Bastien thinks of the events preceeding conference competitions as practice.
“When you’re into combined events, you have to focus in on the event you’re doing, but once it’s over, you have to forget about it,” said Michigan coach Jerry Clayton. “You have to move on. In a heptathlon, you’re looking at seven events. Even though you might not perform well in one, you have to be better at the next. You only get 30 minutes between events, so you can’t spend time on stuff you have no ability to change.”
Though Bastien didn’t compete in a heptathlon this weekend, he did compete in both the 60-meter hurdles and the long jump. Bastien placed second after jumping 7.24 meters, just .02 meters behind the first-place finisher from Louisville.
Bastien and the Michigan men’s track and field team traveled to the Notre Dame Invitational this weekend in South Bend, Ind., to compete against four teams — Louisville, Michigan State, DePaul and Notre Dame. By a narrow margin of just 8.5 points, the Wolverines scraped their way to a victory with 130 points. This meet was the first scored event of the season, with the championship season just five weeks away.
“To me, this is a really good position to be in,” Clayton said. “I told the team the night before that we have a really good chance of winning. But it’s always hard to know for sure — Louisville and Michigan State definitely made it a tough battle. But our team pulled it together.”
Michigan competed in three defining events that improved its score: the 3,000-meter race (20 points), the mile run (19 points) and the 600-meter race (16 points). In the 3,000-meter, the Wolverines finished first, second, fifth and seventh, led by fifth-year senior Mason Ferlic with a time of 8:05.82. The runner-up, junior Connor Mora, finished just under a second later for a personal-best time. Both Ferlic and Mora had top-10 nationally ranked times. Coming up right behind the duo in fifth was junior Ben Flanagan, who set a personal record of 8:09.24.
In the mile event, Michigan runners finished second, third, fourth and sixth with redshirt freshman Chase Barnett leading the pack with a time of 4:08.07. He was quickly followed by redshirt junior Aaron Baumgarten (4:08.37) and senior Alex Moran (4:09.02). The scoring was rounded out by freshman Kevin Hall, who finished in 4:13.64. Both Baumgarten and Hall ran personal bests.
“This is the experience (the team) needs going forward,” Clayton said. “This is a great step going into championships. We set the stage really well, but we can get better. We have stuff moving forward, and that’s where we need to be. We need to keep up the enthusiasm.”
The Wolverines also made great strides on the 600-meter course. Senior Nate Chapman won with a personal-best time of 1:18.27, and sophomore Brennan Munley quickly followed at 1:18.40 for third place. Both the times qualified for fourth and fifth best, respectively, in program history.
Following up from last weekend’s performance, freshman Taylor McLaughlin ran to the nation’s seventh-best time for the 400-meter event with a time of 47.44. He replaced his own time as the sixth-fastest finish ever at Michigan.
Other highlights included redshirt freshman Joe Ellis, who finished fourth in the weight throw with 20.03 meters. Junior Michael Hovater and freshman Kevin Haughn placed third and fifth, respectively, in the pole vault. Hovater set a personal record of 4.90 meters. In the triple jump, redshirt sophomore Kevin Stephens Jr. had a personal record of 14.72 meters for third place.
“I just thought it was a great team performance,” Bastien said. “In general, I was happy with how everyone did. It was fun to have the whole team together and enjoying the competition in the sport. It was just fun.”