By Rebecca Dzombak, Daily Sports Writer
Published February 9, 2014
After the Michigan State Invitational was canceled last weekend, the Michigan men’s track and field team headed to Notre Dame to compete in the Meyo Invitational, which traditionally boasts a deep, competitive field. Despite the missed opportunity to compete the weekend before, the Wolverines had a strong showing, with five athletes placing in the top five in their events.
Senior Bradley James led the charge by taking first place in the high jump with a mark of 2.05 meters, beating second place by two inches.
The team’s second meet of the season offered James and the other athletes a chance to put their off-season training to work. For James, fall training is essential for building muscle memory so that in a meet, it feels natural. Overthinking your jump at a meet, James said, can only hinder your performance.
“It becomes very technical,” James said. “The difference between getting over the bar and getting over the bar when it moves up two inches comes down to a matter of where your foot strikes on the approach and on the takeoff, and your timing in the air. It has to feel natural for you to hit your high marks.”
While that was enough to secure the win, James realized that his jump — which he also hit at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational on Jan. 18 — was good, but that there was a lot of room for improvement.
“Consistency is the ideal for the beginning of the season, especially if you can win consistently,” James said. “That good base is important for the rest of the season. But I’m definitely looking to keep improving. The mark I’d like to hit is seven feet, and do that early in the season so I can work up from there and be competitive at Big Ten Nationals.”
Junior distance runner Mason Ferlic, who took fourth in the 3,000-meter run, agreed that since Meyo was just Michigan’s second meet, the team was still in a transitional period, especially for the runners who are making the change from cross country (an 8,000-meter race) to shorter track distances. The longest track race is traditionally 5,000 meters.
Ferlic’s 3,000-meter time of 8:07.08 was 10 seconds faster than his time almost exactly a year ago. For a track runner, a 10-second difference represents a lot of hard work. But Ferlic expects to improve on that even further.
“Last year was my first year running in uniform, adjusting to collegiate track, so my (personal record) from last year wasn’t that impressive,” Ferlic said. “Breaking that was something I was looking forward to doing. But while a 10-second PR is great, it’s more about looking at where we are as a team, and where we’re going.”
Unlike James, consistency isn’t Ferlic’s goal — shaving time is.
“Indoor is such a short season, you really have to hit the track running,” Ferlic said. “This was my first meet of the season. I ran well, but things could have gone better. It’s all about building up to the end of the season, then the postseason.”
In the field events, senior Ethan Dennis took second in the weight throw with his throw of 20.22 meters, just over a meter shy of Michigan State’s first-place 21.62 meters.
“We’re not quite done shaking the rust off,” Dennis said. “A lot of the other guys out there have three or four meets under their belt already, but we’ll be back up with them soon.”
Michigan’s other top-five athletes were junior Derek Sievers, who placed third in the shot put with a throw of 17.96 meters, and senior Herman Washington, who placed fourth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.03 seconds.
A total of nine athletes got personal bests in their events, including freshman Louis Lamberti, who hit the 2.00 meter mark to take sixth in high jump, and senior Morsi Ryyan, who ran a 4:04.59 to take eighth in the mile.
Michigan coach Jerry Clayton was impressed.
“You can’t help the circumstances, like with what happened last week with our meet being canceled,” Clayton said. “Taking that into consideration, I think the team did very well. We had a lot of personal bests, and that’s a great start for the season.”