Saturday, the Michigan men”s indoor track and field team continued its development as a major contender for the Big Ten championship. Michigan hosted the Red Simmons Invitational, and Jeremy Schneider and Tim Broe put on a show for the raucous crowd of 1,363.
The marquee race of the day was the 3,000 meters. The event showcased Broe, the No. 1 ranked American in the event, and Olympian Kevin Sullivan. Sullivan is currently an assistant coach for Michigan. Before Saturday, he had held the Michigan Indoor Track Building record for the race since 1998.
But now, the name Tim Broe will be etched in the books with the time of 7:49.21 beside it. Broe blew away the field while running the fastest time in the world this year. Sullivan paced the rest of the runners and finished second with a time of 8:07.17.
Two Wolverines crossed the line next and both qualified provisionally for the NCAA Championships. Freshman Nathan Brannen displayed his enormous potential by taking third with a time of 8:09.06. Mike Wisniewski”s 8:10.48 was a great sign for the tri-captain who sat out last week with nagging injuries.
Another freshman phenom, Alan Webb, failed to make his debut due to hamstring problems.
“We”ve got plenty of time for him to run,” Michigan coach Ron Warhurst said. “I know the crowd was disappointed, but I”m sure there were a lot of other people that gave them a big show.”
Schneider also put the crowd on its feet with his comeback in the 800-meter run. When the pistol sounded to start the race, Schneider immediately fell to the back of the pack. But 700 meters later he was still trailing every other runner.
“The first 50 meters I dropped into last place, and I was trying hard to hold on,” Schneider said. “At the last 100 it made me a little nervous I”ve never finished last place in a race before.”
Going into the final stretch it seemed as if his streak of wins would come to an end. He had won his last two events in consecutive weeks at the Harold Silverstein Invitational and against Indiana. But coming out of the final turn Schneider threw it in overdrive. The crowd erupted in disbelief as he streaked past the field to win the race in 1:53.85. Teammate Phil Stead came in second posting a time of 1:54.13.
“A lot of people don”t know about times and distance, but they understand competition,” Warhurst said of Schneider. “They didn”t know what the time was, but they know that was one hell of a run.”
Ike Okenwa won his first race of the year in the 200 meters. After getting blown away in the 60-meter dash earlier, he wore a scowl until his next event.
“He had a real bad start and he got angry, and that”s what he needs to do,” Warhurst said.
The Wolverines now have a week off to prepare for the George Mason Patriot Games in Fairfax, Va. on February 1-2.