With the end of the school year in sight, many students are
anticipating going home. But for many student-athletes, their
season has only just begun. The Michigan men’s track team
sent some of its best down to Atlanta for warm weather and hot
competition. The Wolverines took on track powers Florida, Georgia
Tech and South Carolina, as well as other international runners,
and came out with a few medals.

Although Michigan was unable to capture a first-place finish, it
did grab numerous top-10 and top-five titles.

The Wolverines were led by runner-up showings from sophomore
Todd Iacovelli in the 3,000-meter run, freshman Michael Whitehead
in the triple jump and the 4×400-meter relay. Iacovelli was just
six seconds behind the winner, and the performance came not too
long after he had competed in the 1,500-meter run.

Wolverines earning automatic bids to the NCAA Regional
Championship meet were sophomore Andrew Ellerton in the 1,500-meter
run, freshman Jeff Porter in the 110-meter hurdles and junior Seth
Waits in the 400-meter hurdles. This was Ellerton’s first
race since NCAA Indoor Nationals, where he was a part of the
winning distance medley relay team. His third-place performance was
the best by a collegian in the race, and he cut nearly two seconds
off his personal record — despite having come just one real
practice on the track.

“It felt pretty comfortable,” Ellerton said.
“I was happy with how it went, considering it’s so
early in the season. It should be a sign of good things to
come.”

Ellerton used the race more as a workout than a chance to
qualify for regionals, where the sophomore has his sight set on
earning a trip to nationals in the 800-meter run.

Porter grabbed his qualification despite hitting the second
hurdle violently, costing him his early lead. Despite the hit,
Porter finished the race in seventh place amongst some strong
competition.

Waits, the third regional qualifier, led the Wolverines to a
3-4-5 finish in the 400-meter hurdles. Juniors David Battani and
DarNell Talbert both finished within a second of Waits, displaying
the depth Michigan has in the event. Battani’s time was
two-tenths of a second off of the regional qualifying time, and was
a personal best.

“(They were) great conditions to race in,” Battani
said. “The weather was good, but the competition was great.
Anytime you can get those guys in there it’s great, because
those guys can just fly.”

Senior Nick Meter rounded out the field of Wolverines in the
event, finishing ninth, giving Michigan its fourth hurdler in the
top 10.

Battani knows that his success is a result of working with such
a competitive field of hurdlers.

“It’s definitely great working with these
guys,” Battani said. “It’s great to train with
such talented guys. We push and feed off each other every day. With
all of us together, we’re definitely one of the deepest teams
in the nation.”

Michigan also received some good performances from its freshmen
on the track.

Freshman Sebastien Lounis captured third place in the 800-meter
run, and freshman Ethan Brown grabbed third place in the
5,000-meter run. Brown’s finish came in spite of the fact
that he accidentally followed a rabbit, a person who sets a face
pace then drops out mid-way.

“I’m happy with how I finished place-wise,”
Brown said. “I went out too fast and I would’ve liked
to have had a better time.

“The team had a lot of great performances, and I’m
very glad (about) how we did against the other schools.”

The Wolverines will put in some rigorous workouts this week and
take the weekend off from competition. Their next meet will be
close to home — April 16 through April 18 at the Eastern
Michigan Invitational in Ypsilanti.

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