When the physical and mental aspects of running finally come together during a race, it’s a great moment for a competitive runner.

That’s exactly what happened for sophomore Mason Ferlic, who ran a career-best 24:28 for the Michigan men’s cross country team at the Panorama Farms Invitational 8,000 meter race in Earlysville, Va. on Saturday to give the Wolverines a fourth-place finish in a field of 10 teams.

“I knew I had it in me,” Ferlic said. “I was just looking for smart decisions both mentally and physically during the race, and I really just took control leading the chase pack after the mile. I felt smooth, I felt strong, and confident.”

Ferlic’s time earned him a sixth-place finish — something the second-year runner said he was thrilled about.

“Coming down the straightaway toward the finish line I saw five guys in front of me and I thought, ‘Wow this was a good race,’ ” Ferlic said. “I powered home to the finish.”

Junior Mark Beams finished seconds behind Ferlic with a time of 24:31, a career-best for him as well.

“When I wanted to move forward, I used the down hills and flats to my advantage and just relaxed on the up hills and just picked guys off one at a time,” said Beams. “I wasn’t really concerned with time while I was racing — really I was just competing with the guys around me.”

Ferlic and Beams stepped up on a day where senior Dan Lowry, a transfer from Brown University, had some difficulties, including a nasty fall about two and a half miles into the race. Lowry is typically the team’s fastest runner, but with the miscues he was the third Wolverine to cross the finish line with a time of 24:34.

Junior Morsi Rayyan and senior Zach Ornelas finished with times of 24:46 and 24:52, respectively, wrapping up Michigan’s scoring five.

“We did some things really well but we were a little bit sloppy in our mid-race execution,” said Michigan coach Alex Gibby.

The season is still very young, though, and the course that Michigan traveled to is no cake walk. The Wolverines also had to perform in 80-degree weather — something no Michigan native is accustomed to in late September.

The Michigan runners and coaches emphasized that in preparing for the race, nobody was worried about times.

“It’s all process related stuff, we don’t talk about specific splits; it’s more about feel, relating, and being prepared when the time comes to make the right decision,” Gibby said. “(Ferlic and Beams) were rewarded for good decision-making which is nice to see their first time out.”

Added Ferlic: “(We’re) establishing a pattern for championship races when it really counts, and I came out with a PR as just kind of a benefit of the process.”

This year’s team has high goals — in both the Big Ten and nationally. When asked how he feels about reaching these goals after seeing the team run, Gibby stayed positive.

“Certainly a lot better than years past,” he said. “We are going to see definitive improvement, but the question is how much? We will be better than last year but I think we are capable of being a very good national-level team.”

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