At times, you find runners in the funniest places. Looking
through the Michigan men’s track and field roster, you will
find former football players, swimmers, basketball players and even
a cheerleader. Two of the Wolverines’ blossoming stars
formerly could have been found on the ice of northern Ontario or
the field turf of Birmingham’s Seaholm High School.
Success in track is nothing new for Michigan sophomore Andrew
Ellerton — an ice hockey player turned Canadian 800-meter run
Junior National Champion — and freshman Sebastien Lounis
— a former soccer player who finished fourth in the 800-meter
run at the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s
Division II state meet.
But their total focus on running has been a bit of an
adjustment, albeit a worthwhile one.
“I miss playing soccer a lot, but there is also a benefit
which comes from focusing so much on running,” Lounis said.
“I can see what I am capable of doing and I have kind of
committed myself to that.”
Lounis was a hard worker throughout high school track. He slowly
but surely climbed his way up the state rankings. Ellerton’s
success was more immediate. He had run casually as he grew up, but
only began taking it seriously after his 12th grade year.
He finished eighth in the Canadian Junior Nationals that year,
and made it his goal to win the following year. He did, earning a
berth in the World Junior Championships. Such success made giving
up hockey a no-brainer.
“I was never going to go anywhere in hockey,”
Ellerton said. “I was never good enough to go to like a
Michigan or something. I am the best in high school in Canada at
the (800-meter run), and I am good in the city for hockey. It was
almost a common sense thing.”
After dominating their respective levels of pre-collegiate
track, the adjustment to Michigan was not an easy one for the pair.
Having been the ones with the targets glued to their backs for so
long, they were now back at the bottom of the pile. At times it was
a bit difficult to swallow.
“It was definitely a humbling experience,” Ellerton
said. “Where I was from, I had no competition. The only race
I didn’t win was World Juniors. It was a little bit of a
Lounis was frustrated during the first month of his career,
unable to reach his own potential, let alone surpass already
established Michigan runners. As a walk-on, it was difficult for
him to immediately gain the respect of his teammates. Lounis
pointed to a specific workout when he remembers finally being seen
as bona fide team member.
“I remember a specific day where we were doing a workout
at the Arb, where it was the first time the guys acknowledged me
and slapped me high fives,” Lounis said. “That helped
my confidence a lot.”
Under Warhurst’s guidance, both Lounis and Ellerton have
improved dramatically. Lounis has already improved his high school
time by more than a second, and Ellerton has earned an automatic
bid to the NCAA Championships for the 800-meter run.
Both Lounis and Ellerton are preparing for this weekend’s
Harold Silverston Invitational and the Big Ten Championships the
following weekend. Both meets will be held at the Indoor Track