Redshirt senior distance runner Sean McNamara waited, waited and then waited some more.

He was scheduled to compete in the 3000-meter run Saturday at the Grand Valley State University Big Meet. It was the final event of the afternoon.

Unfortunately for the competitors, afternoon quickly turned to night, and McNamara didn’t get to run until 8 p.m. The meet had so many teams and athletes participating that the proceedings ran behind schedule.

Yet McNamara was still able to post a season-best 8:04:48 in the 3000-meters, good for fifth place and a time that Michigan coach Fred LaPlante calls “national-caliber.” His race was just one of a number of strong Wolverine performances during the two-day meet.

All told, two performers were able to capture wins for Michigan: Frank Shotwell in the heptathlon — posting an NCAA provisional qualifying score of 5,476 points — and Sean Pruitt in the shot put, winning the event for the second straight week and beating his all-time best distance by almost a foot. Twenty-three other Wolverines notched top-10 finishes as well.

Another highlight for Michigan was the 4×400-meters relay team. The quartet of sophomore Nicholas Neuman, junior captain Carl Buchanon, sophomore Matthew Campbell and junior David St. Amant managed to snag second place, and the Wolverines’ time of 3:11:53 was an NCAA provisional qualifying mark as well.

LaPlante was pleased with his team’s performance, especially in light of the possible distraction resulting from such a large field of competition.

“It was hard for the athletes to keep their focus,” LaPlante said. “As impressive that their performances were, it was impressive how focused they were at the end of the day.”

The Big Ten Indoor Championships are less than two weeks away, and the ability for the squad to maintain that focus in a bigger environment is a key development. The championships, to be held Feb. 27-28 in Minneapolis, will also see a large amount of participants and will be the longest road trip the team has taken this season.

“It’ll be very interesting because the track at Minnesota is more like our track,” LaPlante said. “Many people are not gonna run the times they’ve ran all season, but they’ll perform better … So the whole thing is trying to hone your skills, to be able to get in that situation and compete.”

Michigan returns home to host one more meet—the Silverston Invitational—next Saturday, but it promises to not be a high-intensity afternoon. A lot of the Wolverines’ leading runners will be given the afternoon off in order to save their energy and prevent injury. Practice, too, will be lighter in the week ahead.

Most of the competition will come from the more inexperienced team members, who will be trying to earn a spot on the travel squad for Minneapolis. After next weekend, though, all sights will be set on winning the indoor championship.

“The guys on the team are ready to do their best,” LaPlante said. “We’ll be going in with whatever we got. We’ll be willing to bring it and see what we can do.”

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