The Michigan men’s track and field team’s runners struggled to make an impact. With lightning and high winds slowing down the track events at the Longhorn Invitational in Austin, TX., the Wolverines needed a boost. And with two personal bests and a broken school record, Michigan threw hammers like Thor and closed out the two-day event in third place overall.
Though the weather delayed the hammer throw by four hours, seniors Grant Cartwright and Joe Ellis proved their performances were worth the wait. After fouling three of his five attempts, Cartwright threw a personal-best 65.47 meters — good for fourth place. Lightning struck twice for Ellis — after breaking the school record in hammer throw at the same invitational last year, he threw an outstanding 71.00 meters, breaking his own record and winning first place.
Cartwright continued to score points on throws with a shot put of 18.19 meters, placing fifth. Junior Andrew Liskowitz scored the most points on shot put, throwing 19.13 meters and earning a third place finish.
As hammer throw and shot put carried the team with a stellar performance, Michigan coach Jerry Clayton remained collected when reflecting on his throwers.
“(Ellis) is coming into form,” Clayton said. “He’s ahead of where he was this time last year, and that’s what we want and expect. He threw a personal best, (Cartwright) had a personal best in the hammer. Very good opening throws for (Cartwright) and (Liskowitz) at the shot put. At this point, the big thing is to make sure we get (qualifying) marks.”
The strong performance on field events continued with senior Kevin Haughn jumping 5.00 meters in the pole vault, landing fourth overall. At triple jump, senior Kevin Stephens Jr. hopped, skipped and jumped to third place overall with 14.96 meters.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, wind speeds gusting up to 21 miles per hour proved detrimental to their track events. Despite a strong effort from Noah Caudy, placing seventh and ninth at the 400-meter hurdles and 100-meter hurdles, respectively, they failed to score any points on foot.
Michigan’s distance runners were uncharacteristically absent, but to Clayton, this was the plan coming in.
“We didn’t take any distance runners,” Clayton said, “because they’ll be going this weekend to a very prestigious meet, the (Cardinal Classic).”
Although the Wolverines struggled in the track events, the team was overall satisfied with its performance.
“We went into the meet with a partial team, because (the Longhorn Invitational) is really good for the field events and sprints and hurdles,” Clayton said. “We divided the team up. Texas is not the place for 800-meter events and up. Taking a partial squad, I thought we did quite well.”