On May 6, 1954, Englishman Roger Bannister did what the world
had thought was impossible. At the Oxford University track, he ran
a mile in 3:59.4 — the first person in history to run a
sub-four-minute mile — and became world-famous, seen as
almost superhuman to most.
Since then, some of the glamour surrounding the vaunted
four-minute mark has faded in the running community, but it still
remains seemingly impossible for the common man.
At Saturday’s Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind., four
men broke the once-revered barrier, including two of
Michigan’s own — junior Nate Brannen and sophomore Nick
Willis. Willis finished first in 3:56.55 and Brannen came across
the line two seconds later in second, finishing ahead of Eastern
Michigan junior Gavin Thompson and senior Jordan Desilets.
Michigan head coach Ron Warhurst has come to expect impressive
efforts from Brannen and Willis, and suggested that they might have
run faster under better racing conditions.
“There were too many people, about 18 or so, at the start,
and (Willis) got knocked down,” Warhurst said. “He was
tripped from behind, 20 or 30 yards in, he scraped up his shoulder,
and they had to call it back. They could have run faster in better
With their performances, Willis and Brannen have automatically
qualified for next month’s NCAA championships in the mile.
Warhurst was unsure which events they will run in the meet, but it
is likely Willis will run the 3,000-meter run and Brannen will
partake in the 800-meter run, Both will compete in the distance
medley. Willis broke the NCAA record in the 3,000-meter run in last
weekend’s Boston Indoor Games, and Brannen is the defending
NCAA champion in the 800-meters.
Willis and Brannen were not the only ones breaking barriers on
Saturday. Freshman hurdler Jeff Porter seems to be returning to his
form of a year ago, when he was a high school indoor national
champion, as he broke the eight-second barrier in the 60-meter
“(Porter) got to run with the big guys,” Warhurst
said. “He got to the first hurdle good, and ran well after
Porter’s time was 7.97 seconds, still a far cry from his
7.81 of last winter, but the effort shows he’s improved much
in the current season.
The Wolverines’ freshman class continued to shine, as John
D’Arcy won the 500-meter run, his third win in four college
races. Warhurst is cautiously optimistic about D’Arcy’s
“We’ll see when the competition gets tougher how
tough (D’Arcy) can get,” Warhurst said. “He is a
very talented runner.”
Michigan junior Rondell Ruff broke a personal record while
finishing third in the mile run, a separate event from the
prestigious Meyo Mile, which Brannen and Willis competed in.
Nevertheless, Ruff ran towards the front of a deep field, finishing
five seconds faster than his personal-best, with a time of
Wolverine sophomore Todd Iacovelli also surpassed a year-best
time in the 3,000-meter run. Iacovelli improved his time by 17
seconds (8:29.47). Freshman Sebastien Louinis ran his best time of
the season in the 800-meter run, winning his heat in a convincing
Perhaps the most inspiring performance of the day was a third
place finish from the 4×400-meter relay team. The team — led
by freshman Stann Waithe, who ran a 46.3 leg — ran five
seconds faster than Michigan’s best indoor effort last year
and two seconds better than their best outdoor time.
The Wolverines’ field events effort was anchored by a
third place finish by freshman Michael Whitehead in the triple
jump. Sophomore Brad Miller jumped within a half inch of his
personal best, finishing fifth.