In its first meet of the season, the Michigan men’s track team got off to a fast start, with three runners setting personal bests and the team winning a distance medley relay.
Graduate student Ned Willig, juniors Brennan Munley and Ryan Wilkie and sophomore Ben Hill brought home the victory for the Wolverines at the Vanderbilt Invitational in Nashville, Tn. on Friday and Saturday.
Michigan is coming off a 2016 season in which it finished fourth in the indoor Big Ten championship and second in the NCAA indoor championship. The Wolverines are keen on improving upon last season's success.
Munley said that he was happy with his and Michigan's performance over the weekend. The athlete was named an All-American last season and set a new personal record in the 800-meter race, improving from a 1:51.20 to a 1:48.94.
“I think I’m right on track from what I planned as a freshman,” Munley added. “When I was in high school, I ran 1:50 in the 800, and my goal was to take a second off my time each year. … I’m right on track with that.”
Michigan would continue to put up solid showings throughout the invitational, with graduate student Will Sheeran, senior Connor Mora and senior Aaron Baumgarten finishing 3-4-5 in the mile race. Sheeran’s and Baumgarten’s results were both personal bests. Wilkie would also record a personal best with his 13th place finish.
“It was good competitive efforts across the board,” said Michigan assistant coach Kevin Sullivan. “Which is what we were looking to really get out of this weekend.”
Sullivan added that he thought it was a positive performance by the runners. While there was nothing specific that he wanted his athletes to improve upon at the moment, he was looking forward to the athletes getting better and more comfortable as the season continued.
With the other half of the squad competing in Saturday’s Simmons-Harvey Invitational in Ann Arbor, the two events provided the Wolverines with the chance to also give some of their younger runners a chance to compete as well.
“Every opportunity they have is an opportunity to showcase themselves to go to the better meets and the championship meets later in the season,” Sullivan said. “It’s important for them to see how the upperclassmen compete.”
Munley also stressed the importance of leadership from the older athletes, with many young runners emerging this season, noting that he is trying to take on more of a leadership role himself.
Michigan understands that it will need to take the necessary steps to separate itself from its opposition in the season to come.
“That will make the difference of a half-second or a second.”