By Nate Sell, Daily Sports Writer
Published October 13, 2012
When every runner a team enters in a race posts a personal best, good things tend to happen.
That’s what occurred Friday when the Michigan men’s cross country team traveled to Madison for the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, a 8,000-meter race in which the Wolverines finished seventh in a field of 45 teams that included 20 ranked programs.
All seven Michigan runners set personal records. It was an impressive afternoon, without a doubt, but the Wolverines still aren’t fully satisfied. They were expecting nothing less.
“It was a competitive race, great conditions and the weather was pretty favorable, but I think we’re in a place right now where we are all pretty fit and almost where we want to be, (but) not quite there yet,” said senior Dan Lowry. “We are still in a pretty hard phase of training right now so it’s nice that we were able to run fast off tired legs.”
Lowry was the top finisher for the Wolverines, placing 11th overall with a time of 23:37. Lowry’s time was helped by being surrounded with a fast pack of runners, which quickly pushed him to the fore despite a crowded start.
“It started out kind of rough, I was much further back than I was planning on and it was pretty congested with a lot of pushing and shoving,” Lowry said. “But once the field thinned out a little bit I was able to move up and I had solid finish.
“My last two kilometers were pretty fast and I was able to pick off a lot of people. So it worked out pretty well that way.”
Finishing behind Lowry was junior Mark Beams with a time of 24:01, closely followed by senior Zach Ornelas, junior Morsi Rayyan, junior Brendon Blacklaws and freshman Tony Smoragiewicz who all finished under 25 minutes. Rounding out the Michigan line-up was freshman Nicholas Posada with a time of 25:32.
With the Big Ten Championships looming on Oct. 28, the team has started to focus more on racing during practice. With the way their training is set up to taper for the Big Ten finale, all of the runners were expected to run better on Friday than they have in the past, yet still have a lot of room to improve.
“We really set up our kicking phase to arrive in about two weeks so we should see greater physical improvement and pair it with mental improvement and harnessing emotions,” said Michigan coach Alex Gibby. “We should continue to get better.”
The team was without Mason Ferlic, one of its top runners who led the team in their last varsity race in Virginia. He is suffering from a slight foot sprain, and in an effort to keep his injury from getting worse Gibby opted to sit him out this race. Ferlic is expected to return for the Big Ten Championships, giving him two weeks to heal.
All 11 programs from the Big Ten were at the meet and Michigan placed the highest, with the closest team being Indiana in 15th place. Gibby cautioned about reading too much into the results.
“We are going to see every single one of those teams again in two weeks in a different environment,” Gibby said. “The importance of measuring against Big Ten teams is certainly more paramount (at the Championships) than it is today. The Big Ten Championships will be a much smaller field, a different course, and tactics will evolve differently.
“It will be an entirely different race, one we will be better prepared for.”