There were 11 personal records set. Seven Wolverines made their Michigan debut. Three events were won. Two meets were attended. And one athlete ran the best time in the mile — nationwide.
And it was just the third meet of the Michigan men’s indoor track and field season.
“Part of what we wanted to do this weekend was to get some good competition and get guys back in race mode,” assistant coach Kevin Sullivan said. “I think we came down not completely knowing what to expect, but we were hoping for some solid results. You’re never really sure with the first real tough meet of the year, so I felt we were very fortunate that just about every single person on the trip had an all-time or indoor PR.”
This past weekend the Wolverines split up into two squads to travel to both the Commodore Invitational in Nashville, Tenn., and the Doug Raymond Invitational in Kent, Ohio. The former meet was a two-day event, while it was only one day in Ohio. According to Michigan head coach Jerry Clayton, a lot of strategy goes into where each athlete goes. Clayton hopes to put everyone in a place where they will be competitive.
During the first day of competition in Nashville, the Wolverines won the 4×800-meter relay with more than a nine-second margin. The relay team was manned by senior Nate Chapman, sophomores Brennan Munley and Ryan Wilke and redshirt freshman Chase Barnett. They crossed the finish line at 7:30.46, with Munley anchoring the group.
Munley carried that win over to the second day of competition as well, when he placed second in the 800-meter race with a time of 1:49.78. Chapman followed closely in third place at 1:50.34. The times qualified for the fifth- and eighth-fastest in program history, respectively. Both were personal records.
According to Sullivan, the team’s success was a product of focus. But according to Munley, it was the result of a grueling training season.
“I did lots of really hard miles that just sucked,” Munley said. “Everyone on our team does it. It’s definitely beneficial, but it sucks. But it makes things easier when it comes to competition.”
In total, Michigan won three events on the weekend: the shot put and the 3,000-meter race at the Doug Raymond Invitational, as well as the mile course at the Commodore Invitational with fifth-year senior Mason Ferlic heading the pack.
Ferlic, along with six other Wolverines, finished with personal records. His time, 4:01.79, is the fastest mile in the nation so far this season, as well as the ninth-fastest in program history. Despite this, Ferlic is still looking ahead.
“It’s pretty cool to have a top-10 mile time,” Ferlic said. “But breaking (four minutes) is one of my goals here, and it’s the hallmark of a great runner. It’s a fun barrier and fun to add to your resume.”
He added: “It does feel like it’s my last opportunity on the track in my Michigan uniform. I try not to let it emotionally control me, but it just goes by quick. It feels just like last year I was a freshman. You arrive at the end and you find you have goals left unchecked. That’s what I’m focusing on now — those goals.”
Ferlic was quickly followed by redshirt sophomore Connor Mora (4:04.47) in second place, and Barnett in fourth with a time of 4:06.91. Right afterward came junior co-captain Ben Flanagan (4.07.05) in fifth and redshirt sophomore Austin Benoit (4:07.91) in sixth — both running their first collegiate miles. Rounding out the Wolverine milers were redshirt junior Alex Moran in eigth with a time of 4:08.07 and junior Micah Beller in 11th (4:11.73).
Redshirt junior Tony Smoragiewicz added to an already successful weekend with the 3,000-meter event, in which he now holds the fastest indoor time in the nation at 8:02.62 after placing second behind a professional runner. Following him was redshirt sophomore Aaron Baumgarten in fourth with a time of 8:07.40.
In the same event in Ohio, freshmen Keenan Rebera and Kevin Hall finished first and second with times of 8:32.54 and 8:35.20, respectively, in their Michigan debut.
Other highlights of the weekend included a second-place overall finish by freshman Taylor McLaughlin in the 400-meter with a time of 47.55. In the shot put section of the field events, fifth-year senior Derek Sievers threw 18.32 meters for the win on his first attempt in the final.
Sophomore Michael Hovater rounded out the victorious weekend in the pole vault when he cleared 4.75 meters.
“For where we are in the season, I thought it was successful meet,” Clayton said. “We had good performances all around. It was a very, very good start. But each week our schedule gets a little tougher, on purpose. Next weekend we will trave to Notre Dame as a team. We’re looking forward to that.”