Michigan to smooth out kinks before Indoor Championships

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By Kelly Hall, Daily Sports Writer
Published February 20, 2014

For the second time this indoor season, the men’s track and field team won’t have to travel to compete. It will also be the last time at home for the Wolverines when they host the Silverston Invite on Feb. 22 to wrap up the regular season.

“(Being at home) is a big advantage,” said Michigan coach Jerry Clayton. “We don’t have to travel, so we can meet in an adrenaline-filled situation and can tune up for Big Ten (Championships), but we don’t have the wear and tear of traveling, and that’s critical.”

The meet is being approached by a majority of the athletes as a way to improve upon their individual events. Though most of the distance runners won’t be competing in order to rest up for the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Feb. 28, almost all of the athletes in the field events will be performing.

But Clayton wants to see improvements in all of the events this weekend.

“It’s like a tune-up for the people that I feel still need to meet,” Clayton said. “Some people will hold out, some people will run different events. Everything this weekend is to get ready for next weekend.”

Depending on the event, the Wolverines have only run in three or four meets this indoor season and the invite this weekend gives Michigan another opportunity to catch up before going to the conference meet.

For many of the athletes, the main goal this weekend will be to qualify in order to guarantee that they’ll be able to compete in the Big Ten Championships.

For some of the seniors, the meet at home will provide another source of inspiration: it will be their last time competing at the U-M Indoor Track Building.

“Knowing that this is going to be the last time that I’m really going to be running officially on this track means a lot,” said senior hurdler Erick Gavin. “I’m really happy that it’s happening, but I’m a little sad about it.”

Gavin set his personal record in the 60-meter hurdles last Saturday at the Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M, but he still claims there are a few things he needs to work on, especially in regard to his form and his start.

All seven graduating seniors will be recognized on the starting line this weekend. One of them is high jumper Bradley James, who moved to ninth in the Big Ten standings after his performance last weekend at the SPIRE Invitational. The last time Bradley jumped at home, he won the event.

Many of the field event participants, like James, are very competitive within the conference. Senior thrower Ethan Dennis is currently ranked eighth in the Big Ten in weight throwing, and redshirt sophomore thrower Derek Sievers is currently ranked ninth in shot put.

Though the Silverston Invite is by far no means the most important meet of the year, it will help the athletes set themselves up for success down the stretch.

“You’ve got to take every little thing as important to really build up to something great,” Gavin said. “People are just going to tack on what they’ve been learning from each meet and hopefully put it all together. This is another chance for them to do that.”