Winning the Big Ten indoor title has been a goal for the Michigan men’s track and field team all season. Heading into the Big Ten Championship meet at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center, the Wolverines felt they could land anywhere from second to seventh place.
But they found themselves on the low end with a disappointing sixth-place finish in Madison.
“We’re not happy about it,” Michigan coach Ron Warhurst said.
The Wolverines’ finish marks the first time in five years they have not been in the top four at the meet.
A recent team-wide battle with the flu hindered many Wolverines, and one athlete was at the hospital this weekend fighting the bug. The distance runners suffered the most from the epidemic.
“They weren’t able to run much all last week,” Warhurst said. “But even if we were hitting on all cylinders, it would have been difficult.”
Co-captain Lex Williams led the distance crew, finishing fifth in the 3,000-meter run (8:18).
Junior Adam Harris was one of the Wolverines’ few stellar performers. He captured conference titles in the long jump and the 60-meter dash, where he set a conference record and personal best (6.61).
With his winning jump (24-10), almost five inches ahead of second place, Harris became the first Wolverine since Derek Harper in 1984 to claim the Big Ten long jump title. The distance was also a personal best and an NCAA qualifying mark.
The success left Harris, nicknamed “Smilez,” with more excitement.
“He enjoys the competition, and he enjoys the fruits of his labor,” associate head coach Fred LaPlante said.
Sophomore Frank Shotwell also had a strong showing at the meet, finishing first in the heptathlon. Shotwell finished in the top eight in all seven heptathlon events, including third-place finishes in the shot put and pole vault and first-place finishes in the long jump and 60-meter hurdles.
During the next two weeks, Michigan hopes to shake off the disappointment of the Big Ten Championship meet and focus on the March 14-16 NCAA Indoor Championships.