The two-day Big Ten Indoor Champions was in full throttle Friday and Saturday at the SPIRE Institute at Geneva, Oh. The University of Michigan men’s track and field team finished day one with five athletes contributing to the scoreboard in three different events. Of the 12 teams competing, the Wolverines finished sixth, with 57 points.
Junior Andrew Liskowitz and senior Grant Cartwright finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the shot put. Their wins contributed nine points towards the team score. The relay team, which consisted of Senior Ryan Wilkie, Sophomore Desmond Melson, Junior Matt Plowman and Sophomore Andrew Lorant, also added extra points after taking sixth place in the distance medley event.
“I thought we had a good day (on Saturday),” said Michigan coach Jerry Clayton. “We had a little bit of a rough start the first day. We were hoping to get a few more people qualified to the finals, but it is what it is. The people that we did get through, I thought they lined well in that final day which helped us finish as high as we could.”
The second day of the Big Ten Championships was one of the weight throwers’ greatest performances. Junior Joe Ellis was the star and cornerstone for the team. Ellis broke the Wolverines’ school record with a throw of 23.31 meters in his second attempt. The record was set by teammate Senior Grant Cartwright last season. Ellis continued his record-breaking performance with a Championship-winning throw of 23.64 meters.
“It’s the first big step towards becoming a legendary year,” Ellis said. “It certainly feels good (to win first place). Setting a personal record at the Big Ten Championships is definitely a big deal.”
Ellis’s record is currently ranked second nationally and also tied with SMU’s Robert Weird (1983) for 13th in collegiate history.
Cartwright also took a spot in the podium by placing third with a season-best throw of 22.87 meters. He was outperformed by David Lucas from Penn State. Lucas outthrew Cartwright in the third round.
“Penn State got a great team over there,” Ellis said. “We are all really close and close competitors. Me and Grant (Cartwright) were fighting against David Lucas and Morgan Shigo. We got more points at the end so job well done.”
Ellis and Cartwright’s combined throws totaled to 46.51 meters. Their record went down in the books as the farthest combined throw by a pair of teammates in a non-NCAA Championship meet. The weight throw duo’s total score also finished as one of the best two-teammate added total in collegiate history just behind Spyridon Jullien and Mohsen Anani of Virginia tech at the 2006 NCAA Championships.
Coach Clayton hopes for Michigan to rank in the top 20, nationally, and is relying on certain athletes to get the team to the NCAA Championships. Joe Ellis and Grant Cartwright are guaranteed spots in the weight throw, while Junior Andrew Liskowitz is still pending consideration in the shot put. In addition, senior distance runner Ben Flanagan is hoping to qualify in the 5000 meters.
“It’s attainable if we get all four of them in the meet,” Coach Clayton said. “We’ve come relatively close to that. We always want people challenging for the top 3 and for the championship. That’s a direction that we need to keep working hard and moving towards in this outdoor season.”