BY ZACH SHAW
Daily Sports Writer
Published May 5, 2013
Four and a half months after beginning at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational in Ann Arbor, the Michigan men’s track and field team concluded its regular season at the Toledo Invitational on Friday.
The 13-team event was non-scoring, but still provided a glimpse of what the Wolverines will look like at the Big Ten Championships, which begins May 10th in Columbus, Ohio. While many teams are easing off their training a week before the championships, Michigan coach Fred LaPlante seized a rare good-weather opportunity to let everyone race their best events.
“We competed most of our team, which is something we don’t normally do the week before championships,” LaPlante said. “But we felt our guys needed the competition and a little bit of a confidence-builder heading into the big meets. With the combination of good weather, good marks and finals being over, I think our team is in a great mindset moving towards championships.”
In a spring muddled with puddles, the track team had difficulty effectively training all season. Since good footing is vital in every event, LaPlante felt the rain presented a high hurdle to overcome.
“Track isn’t a sport meant to be competed in bad weather,” LaPlante said. “But nobody in the Big Ten is in the Sun Belt and we all deal with it, so it’s almost insignificant at this point.”
Other then the sunshine, the weekend was headlined by the Wolverines’ seven victories and 18 top-three finishes. The most impressive victory in LaPlante’s opinion was freshman Mason Ferlic in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Making his collegiate debut in the event, Ferlic not only won, but posted the second-fastest time in the Big Ten this year.
The meet also marked the return to the hurdles for juniors Herman Washington and Ali Arastu. The two hadn’t competed in their top events in nearly a month, but took home victories in Toledo, Ohio. Both anticipate top-10 finishes in the Big Ten Championships and are looking to reach the NCAA Championships.
With the regular-season behind him, Laplante is looking forward to the championship portion of the season. Points are determined by relativity, so LaPlante doesn’t know what to expect. But there’s no doubt he plans on his team improving upon last season’s ninth-place finish. The Big Ten will feature six top-25 teams, but LaPlante knows nothing matters until championships.
“We’re a very well-rounded team,” LaPlante said. “Some teams have just sprinters or just throwers or just distance, but we can cover all of the events. How we’re going to be judged this year is really based on how we do in the next couple weeks at Big Tens and then the National meets.
“We aren’t out for a certain point threshold; we’re just out to do the best that we can do. We’re going to reach for the finish line, wherever it is.”