Last year, the Michigan women’s track and field team won the Battle of the Blues in Durham, N.C. while the men’s track and field team took second. This year, though, the roles reversed, and the men came out on top with the women following in the runner-up position.
The Wolverines traveled south together to compete against Duke and North Carolina to open up the outdoor season. While the women’s competition was relatively close — Michigan’s women took second with 62 points, just 10 points below Duke and six above North Carolina — the men’s team claimed victory with 101 points with Duke trailing by 47 points.
“It was really fun to be out there with all the guys, and the women’s team, too,” said senior thrower Grant Cartwright. “Something about outdoor season is a lot more fun than indoor season.”
Cartwright, along with fellow All-American thrower junior Joe Ellis, contributed 16 total points to the team’s overall score. Ellis claimed the hammer title with the second-best throw of his career (66.34 meters) and Cartwright took the discus title with a career-best throw of 55.40 meters.
Michigan men’s coach Jerry Clayton was impressed by Cartwright’s performance, considering he was in three events in one day — discus, shot put and hammer. Cartwright, however, didn’t see that as a “burden” and focused instead on finally getting outdoors after a long indoor season.
Joining the impressive throwing squad this year is freshman Andrew Liskowitz, who took the title for shot put. Cartwright believes it was the “highlight of the weekend” and emphasized how much the team rallied behind Liskowitz.
Other notable performances from the men’s side included a one-through-five sweep in the 1,500-meter run and the top two spots in the steeplechase. Senior sprinter Khoury Crenshaw claimed wins in both the 100-meter run and 4×100 relay. The distance runners took four event titles with 11 top-four finishes.
“It was an excellent meet,” Clayton said. “We had great performances in all the areas. Anytime you can win as a team, that’s what it was about. It was a really good day for the team”
Though the women didn’t fare as well as the men, Michigan women’s coach James Henry wasn’t looking to win — similar to his attitude last year. For him, the meet is meant to open the season with good competition and scoring is the least of his concerns.
Senior distance runner Gina Sereno, though, still pushed forward to take first in the 1,500-meter race with a time of 4:21.38 — a full two seconds over runner-up and teammate, senior mid-distance athlete Jamie Morrissey. Sereno, combined with the rest of the distance squad, racked up almost half of their team’s total.
Although both Sereno and Morrissey don’t run the 1,500 — it was Sereno’s first time — the duo pushed through the first 800 meters together.
“As you’re running together you have a sense someone is running with you,” Sereno said. “It makes it easier to know someone else is there. (The race) was a product of us training together and working hard in pushing each other. Every race situation lends itself to a different outcome. But, being able to practice every day and knowing how we run led to this.”
Like the men’s side, the throwers contributed a great deal to the overall total. Junior Bailey Baker notched three points in the hammer throw with a distance of 55.17 — a full four-and-a-half feet better than her throw week previous in the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Challenge.
“We got eight more meets before our conference championship,” Henry said. “This is one meet down and seven to go. This is a long long year, we want to improve and stay healthy and come together as a team. Those are our goals.”