What can you do in under four minutes? Brush your teeth? Eat breakfast on the go? Michigan track stars Nate Brannen and Nick Willis can both run the mile in that time.

Last weekend at the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Complex, Brannen and Willis became the fifth and sixth (respectively) athletes in University of Michigan history to achieve sub-four minute performances in the mile.

Brannen was runner up in the race with a time of 3:57.96 and Willis finished fourth with a time of 3:58.15. Both times were not only NCAA-qualifying times, but also two of the five world’s fastest-mile times of 2003.

“It was so exciting. The first four runners were so close together that I didn’t know what place the two boys came in; only that they were both within the sub-four minute marker,” Michigan coach Ron Warhurst said.

For Willis, a freshman from New Zealand, this was his first time breaking four minutes in the mile. But he has already posted two other NCAA eligible times in the distance medley relay and the 3000-meter run.

For Brannen, a sophomore from Cambridge, Ontario, this was his second time running a sub-four minute mile. Amazingly enough, his first time was in the summer of his senior year in high school.

“I played hockey and ran track in grade school, but in ninth grade I had to choose running because I knew that it would hold a better future for me,” Brannen said.

A well-matched pair, Brannen and Willis train together, plan out their races together and room together on road trips.

“Nick and I are best friends, on and off the track,” Brannen said.

The two obviously have a bright future in running at Michigan.

“Willis and Brannen really compliment one another,” Warhurst said. “Together they’ll plan out how they want to race, and during the actual run they are only out on the track to beat one another. But, after the event is over, they’ll say ‘thanks for getting me through the race.'”

With The Big Ten Championship nearing (March 1-2), Warhurst would really like for each runner, thrower and jumper to achieve his individual best.

The Big Ten is a very competitive conference for men’s track and field and it is difficult to stay up at the top with talented teams like Wisconsin and Minnesota.

“We have a very draining season. We are in season for nine months out of the year. Every athlete has to stay extremely focused,” Warhurst said.

This weekend the Wolverines will head off to compete at Penn State in the Sykes-Sabok Challenge Cup Friday and Saturday. (Feb. 14-15) The team will take on Big Ten rivals Penn State and Ohio State and several smaller East coast schools.

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