Michigan boasts multiple top-10 finishes at Mt. SAC Invitational

By Scott Freedman, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 22, 2012

The Michigan men’s track and field team raked in a handful of top-10 finishes this weekend at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays in Walnut, Calif.

The invitational was made of more than just American athletes and had representatives of various foreign countries including Japan, Croatia and the Czech Republic.

Junior Ethan Dennis and sophomore Ali Aratsu won first place in the hammer throw and 400-meter hurdles, respectively.

Dennis’s first place launch measured 62.53 meters, a mere .22 meters shy of his throw just a week before, which broke the program record. And Aratsu recorded a time of 50.54 seconds, which locked up first place.

Also adding to the success was sophomore Morsi Rayyan who recorded a personal best time of 29:43.44 in the 10,000-meter run and secured third place. The record setting would not stop there. Sophomore Eric Oliver and freshman Phillip Washington each set personal bests in the 400m race with times of 48.02 seconds and 48.33 seconds, respectively.

Among the more successful finishers were senior Craig Forys in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, junior Jack Greenlee in the pole vault, and sophomore Herman Washington in the 110-meter hurdles.

Building on their success from last week, the 4x400-meter relay squad, comprising Aratsu, freshman Phillip Washington, senior Matthew Campbell and junior Troy Sneller, posted a season-best 3:08.88, placing them second behind Minnesota.

But one of the main rivals of the weekend was not another athlete, but an unusual foe — final exams.

Some unlucky Wolverines were required to take finals while at the competition, forcing them to live up to the title of student-athlete.

“When they weren’t competing, they were in the hotel taking exams,” said Michigan coach Fred LaPlante. “It was tough for some people to be 100-percent focused on competition, but we’re right in the heart of our season so it’s just something we have to work with.”

The Wolverines, who compete chiefly in non-scoring events, have two competitions remaining in the regular season, followed by the Big Ten and NCAA Championships.

Michigan, despite the lack of official scoring, has performed well throughout the season, and looks to carry the momentum of the past few weeks into the postseason.

“Its good to put yourself in good position,” said LaPlante, “but you still have to do it when it comes to championships.”

Michigan will compete in the Penn Relays this coming weekend in Philadelphia before returning to Ann Arbor the following weekend for the U-M Len Paddock Invitational.