Hosting a Big Ten championship can be quite an undertaking. So
when Michigan was selected to host the men’s indoor track
championship meet, the Wolverines had a large task in front of
them. With one of the smaller venues in the Big Ten, Michigan had
to host a few hundred athletes, officials and spectators.

Ryan Nowak
TONY DING/Daily
Junior Nate Brannen took home his fourth and fifth Big Ten title this weekend, winning the 800-meter run and anchoring the distance medley relay.

But the indoor track facility’s cramped quarters proved to
be manageable, and also an advantage for the Michigan men’s
team. The rowdy crowds fueled the Wolverines en route to a
third-place finish.

Michigan was led by four individual champions and a victory in
the distance medley relay. Sophomore Nick Willis won his third and
fourth Big Ten title, as he easily prevailed in both the mile and
the 3,000-meter run. Willis sat on the heels of the lead runner
until the final lap in both races, and then blew the field away
with mind-blowing kicks. After he pulled away in the 3,000-meter
run, a Wisconsin coach told Badger standout Matt Tegencamp that
Willis made the other runners look like they were standing
still.

“It was really hot during the races, and I just made sure
I had it,” Willis said. “During the finals, the crowd
really got into it. I got to catch the faces of a lot of the alumni
that coach Warhurst had talked about — there were about 150
of them at the finish line. That was great.”

Running in his first Big Ten Championships, freshman Jeff Porter
dominated the field in the 60-meter hurdles from preliminaries to
finals, winning the event in a scorching 7.82 seconds. The
performance cut more than a tenth of a second off his personal
best, and is the nation’s 11th best time this season, all but
guaranteeing him a trip to the National Championships.

“I can’t explain it, I really can’t,”
Porter said. “It’s something that I’ve worked
for. I didn’t expect it to come this soon.”

Cruising through preliminaries and semifinals gave Porter the
ease of mind needed to capture the title.

“The only thing I was really thinking about was
performing,” Porter said. “I prayed. I said,
‘Lord please help,’ and he came through when I needed
him the most.”

Nate Brannen won his fourth and fifth Big Ten title with his
victory in the 800-meter run and his anchoring of the distance
medley relay. His time of 1:47.74 broke the Big Ten meet, the track
and the Michigan record for the 800-meter run.

Freshman Michael Whitehead’s third-place finish in the
triple jump led the way for Michigan in the field events. Whitehead
broke his personal record by more than a foot, and was
Michigan’s lone medalist in the field events.

The Wolverines’ third-place finish showed Michigan’s
improvement. Coach Ron Warhurst was more than pleased with the way
his team performed.

“The whole team, I’m just happy about
everybody,” Warhurst said. “We performed as a team
today. We got rolling last night with the two wins and started
again today with victories on the track. We placed everywhere we
could’ve placed anybody.”

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