Finding the drive to compete against a member of another team may be human nature, but finding the motivation to compete against someone from your own team can be tricky. Sophomore Darnell Talbert found that motivation, though, when he won the 60-meter high hurdles in the annual men’s track intrasquad meet.
“It’s hard because you’re used to working with your teammates.” Talbert said. “But having them beat you in the intrasquad meet helps to train us for when it really counts.”
In the meet held Dec. 11-12, Talbert and the rest of the Michigan men’s track and field team were put head to head against each other after being divided into Maize and Blue teams.
Talbert’s time of 8.44 led the Maize team to victory in the hurdles. The race was particularly close, with the other four participants clocking in within 0.37 seconds of Talbert.
The sophomore was modest when discussing his win. “I was honestly surprised that I won,” Talbert said. “I didn’t feel ready for the race, but I had fun and was happy with the results.”
Coach Ron Warhurst would be pleased if Talbert surprises himself again during the upcoming season.
Both sides had strong athletes, but the Blue team claimed the win for the fourth year in a row with a score of 381, leaving the Maize team with just 287.
During the first day of competition, sophomore Nate Brannen, who was Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, scored points for the Blue team in the 1,200-meter run. Brannen tied for first with Maize runner Nick Willis and the two broke the meet record with a time of 3:01.69.
“I was really impressed with Nate and Nick,” Warhurst said. “They always do a good job, but they performed especially well in the intrasquad meet.”
Freshman Andrew Ellerton, competing for the Blue team, had a standout performance as well with his win in the 800-meter run. With his time of 1:54.71, Ellerton set an intrasquad meet record. The rookie also finished sixth out of 19 runners in the 1,200-meter, not far behind Brannen and Willis.
Other noteworthy performances came from fifth-year senior Kevin Lamb and sophomore Nathan Taylor. Taylor took first for the Blue team in the 60-meter dash with Lamb close behind him in second for the Maize team. Lamb also won the 200-meter dash in 22.51.
The meet not only gave the athletes a chance to warm up for the season, but it also allowed the coaches to see what talent they have to work with this season.
“The performances in the meet were very promising,” Warhurst said. “Some of these guys have already been through the cross-country season and are well prepared.”
Now that Warhurst knows what weapons he has, he is looking toward the rest of the season. Ranked ninth in the Big Ten last year, the team has plenty of room for improvement. The loss of Alan Webb, who last year as a freshman took fourth in the 1500-meter run in the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships, will also factor into the team’s success. Webb turned pro after just one year of competing in college track.
“Everyone’s going to have to step up now that Webb is gone,” Talbert said.
Saturday, the team hosts the Jack Harvey Invitational to officially kick off the season, but Warhurst is already looking past this weekend’s meet.
“I’m anxious to see how the team does against Indiana,” Warhurst said, referring to the meet Jan. 18 against Indiana, Michigan State and Kent State. “That meet will be our first big test. We’ve lost practice time over the Christmas break, so we’ll have to work extra hard now that the season is underway.”