The Ohio State track team could only watch in despair.
As the triumphant Michigan track and field squad jogged a victory lap around the Indoor Track Building in front of almost 1,400 raucous maize-and-blue-clad supporters, it was clear the spirit of competition between the two schools extends far beyond the walls of the Big House or the Horseshoe.
“Everyone here today cares about more than just football,” Ohio State freshman jumper Justin Yates said. “The fans are here to support Michigan against Ohio State in every aspect of competition.”
For the first time in 15 years, Michigan and Ohio State met head-to-head Saturday in what is called a dual meet. Its unique nature heightened the anticipation of the contest.
“It’s the best rivalry in sports,” Michigan junior thrower Dan Bedoya said. “I can feel it today. It’s huge. It’s on a different level.”
A recent dry spell in team performance left both squads hungry for bragging rights.
Michigan has historically been a Big Ten powerhouse in both indoor and outdoor track and field, boasting the most Big Ten team championships (56). The Wolverines and the Buckeyes traded spots atop the conference in 1993 and 1994, but neither has landed the Big Ten title since.
But on Saturday, “The Dual” brought some excitement back to the rivalry.
Fans were treated to broken records, photo finishes and a rousing chorus of “The Victors” to conclude the day’s events.
“The crowd was into every race,” Michigan coach Ron Warhurst said. “It was a unique atmosphere and it was meant for a natural rivalry.”
Ohio State coach Robert Gary echoed Warhurst’s comments on the meet’s intensity.
“It was fantastic,” Gary said. “It was the most enjoyable track meet I’ve ever been a part of.”
The two squads will go head-to-head again on April 5th, when the Wolverines travel to Columbus for the second installment of The Dual.
“We’ll see them in six weeks, and it’s only going to get more heated,” Gary said.
Michigan junior Adam Harris, who set two school records in the meet, and the Wolverines will bring the confidence from Saturday’s victory with them to Ohio State.
“We were ready to kick some Ohio State butt today,” Harris said. “And if we did it once, hopefully we can do it again.”