ALLENDALE, Mich. — The Michigan men’s track and field team started this season’s indoor campaign on an unconventional note, participating in Grand Valley State University’s Holiday Open on Friday.
“This is the first year we’ve really opened up at a meet like this,” said coach Jerry Clayton. “I’ve never been real big on doing the ones in December. It’s kind of like a tryout for some people, a test to see where we’re at.”
Fourteen athletes traveled to compete in nine of 18 scored events. A handful of Wolverines had successful outings, and the team as a whole ranked seventh out of the 21 participating schools, scoring 38 points. Eastern Michigan earned the top spot with 133 points.
For shot putter Grant Cartwright, Friday afternoon proved to be a record-breaking day. The sophomore managed to throw 17.54 meters on two of his six attempts, beating his previous personal best by a centimeter and earning himself fourth place out of 32 competitors.
“The first meet, you kind of always have a lot of adrenaline going,” Cartwright said. “Sometimes the timing of the throw is a little hard, but it’s all part of getting back into the swing of competition.
“Starting out the year with a lifetime best was good, but we still feel as a group that we kind of underperformed a little bit.”
Senior Derek Sievers finished just ahead of Cartwright in shot put, throwing 18.09 meters. His efforts earned him third place in the event, falling short of only Nick Baatz (19.29 meters), who competed unattached, and Grand Valley State junior Chris Saikalis (18.11 meters).
“Derek’s performance was really good,” Clayton said. “To be throwing 18.09 in December coming off of how hard we’re training — and then Grant tied his personal best. So those were two top performances.”
Elsewhere at the GVSU Holiday Open, Michigan’s speed and distance runners looked to build off of the program’s most successful cross country season since 1998.
Four Wolverines stretched their legs in the 5,000-meter run, including junior Tony Smoragiewicz, senior transfer Jonathan Phillips, sophomore Ben Flanagan and senior Mason Ferlic. Ferlic is the reigning NCAA Cross Country Great Lakes Regional champion.
Of the 33 runners who completed the race, Smoragiewicz finished second with a time of 14:15.21, and Phillips snuck into the top 10 as well, coming in eighth with a time of 14:27.31.
“I was pretty happy with my race,” Smoragiewicz said. “I had a really good cross country season, so I was coming off healthy and in good shape.”
Other notable results from the early-season outing included senior Joshua Nance’s fifth-place finish in the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.24 seconds, senior Nathaniel Chapman’s first-place finish in the 600-meter run with a time of 1:19.62 and freshman Joseph Ellis’ fifth-place finish in the weight throw with a distance of 19.89 meters.
“As far as we’re going with goals for this year, when we come back in January is when we’ll really sit down and, as a group, come up with what we really feel our goals will be, what course we’ll take,” Clayton said.
“We’d like to try to finish higher in the conference, hopefully somewhere in the top five, but we’ll sit down and take care of a lot of that in January.”

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