In a lackluster meet with many athletes missing due to injury, the Michigan men”s indoor track team lost to Indiana by its largest margin of defeat since 1992. The Wolverines failed to win 11 of 15 events en route to a 100-57 defeat at the Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse in Bloomington.
Two of Michigan”s four victories came from freshmen competing in their first collegiate meet. Nathan Taylor, a Canadian junior champion, won the 60-meter dash in 6.94 seconds. The win came against last year”s Big Ten champion, Contrell Ash. Michigan”s Brent Cummings and Dustin Gress placed third and fifth, respectively.
Joey Sarantos won his first event while donning the maize and blue. His shot put of 16.05 meters beat Indiana”s Ryan Ketchum by 0.08 meters. Sarantos joined the team after he completed his freshman football season.
“Those guys did real good,” tri-captain Ike Okenwa said. “I feel they lived up to expectations.”
The two other victories came courtesy of Tom Greenless and Jeremy Schneider. Greenless was the only Wolverine to run in the mile. He beat the rest of the field by crossing the line in 4:18.91.
Schneider, last week”s Big Ten Athlete of the Week, won the 600-meter run. His second victory in as many weeks came in at 1:19.11.
“We had some bright spots,” assistant coach Fred LaPlante said. “But we ran into a good team and kind of got thrashed.”
The short-handed Michigan team competed without Derek Applewhite, Mike Wisniewski, Nathan Brannen, Brian Turner and Alan Webb. With a pieced-together lineup, the team concentrated on individual performances. Since the meet had no bearing on Big Ten standings, the final score was less important.
“We knew we weren”t throwing the entire troop at Indiana,” Schneider said. “We wanted to see how people did.”
Unfortunately, people did not pick up the slack as expected. The feeling from the team was that everyone was not particularly ready for the meet.
“Half of our guys were not tuned in to compete,” LaPlante said. “Whatever lessons we need to learn, I hope we have.”
Okenwa, who expects to challenge for the Big Ten championship, finished third in the 200-meters with a time of 22.05. The Wolverines” top pole-vaulter, Brent Sheffer, finished second behind Indiana”s Dino Efthimiou by seven inches. In the long jump, David Malonsen leapt 6.34 meters for a fourth-place finish behind three Hoosiers.
Next week, the Wolverines will come home and try to right the ship. Saturday, Michigan will host the Red Simmons Invitational.
The goal in track and field is always to work toward the Big Ten meet. Teams train for strength and endurance early and focus on speed as the season winds down.
The Wolverines are in excellent physical condition physically, but have not translated that into wins on the track. Schneider”s newfound dedication has been the brightest spot during this young season.
The team should be considered a championship contender once upperclassmen heal up and the freshman gain more experience. Alan Webb”s highly anticipated debut should materialize this weekend.
“We have a lot of talent,” Schneider said. “It”s going to be interesting to see what we can do.”