From the moment he set foot on campus, Michigan junior Robert Peddlar set his sights on winning the Big Ten Indoor Championship in the long jump.

“That’s been my biggest goal since freshman year,” Peddlar said. “Everything I’ve done since then has been working towards that.”

But just two weeks ago, he was sidelined with an injury, and his chances of appearing in last weekend’s Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships appeared in question.

“I was a little worried about it,” Peddlar said.

He was able to recover, though, and accomplished his goal last Saturday by winning the long jump title with a distance of 7.32 meters.

“It was a relief emotionally,” he said. “I envisioned myself on the podium all week, so to just come through was a really great feeling.”

His performance was the highlight of an otherwise underwhelming meet for the Michigan men’s track and field team. The Wolverines finished eighth out of the ten participants, with 42 points, just two ahead of last place. Minnesota won the overall title with 162.50 points.

Though the eighth place finish isn’t pretty at face value, one cannot ignore the relative youth of a team that wasn’t expected to compete for one of the top spots.

“Overall, I am pleased with the efforts of our guys, but I am disappointed with the team finish,” Michigan coach Fred LaPlante said. “I certainly felt we were capable of doing better. Our guys gave 100 percent effort and in certain areas, we just didn’t put it together.”

Despite that, there were a few other good performances for the Wolverines. Senior Sean Pruitt was leading the 35-pound weight toss until the final throw. His longest heave was 20.23 meters, good enough for second place, just twelve-hundredths of a meter behind the winner.

“That’s tough,” LaPlante said. “It was Sean’s best throw of the season and we all thought he had it. Sometimes those things happen.”

In other strong performances, juniors Carl Buchanon and Nick McCampbell finished fourth and six in the 60-meter hurdles. Peddlar added to his outstanding weekend with his longest triple jump of the season, finishing seventh in the event. Also, senior Frank Shotwell took fourth in the heptathlon. He won the Big Ten title in the event in 2008, but the competition has improved drastically since then.

“I’m pleased with getting fourth place, which I never thought I would be pleased with,” Shotwell said. “Things didn’t really go my way this weekend. I started both days out really strong. It was definitely the deepest field in the heptathlon that the Big Ten has seen in a while.”

Perhaps the most famous member of the team, Denard Robinson, narrowly missed out on the finals in the 60-meter dash. His time of 6.89 was good enough for ninth place, just four-thousandths behind what it took to qualify.

The NCAA Indoor Championships are March 12-13, after which the outdoor season begins. Coach LaPlante is eagerly awaiting it.

“Now we can take a breather and re-group for outdoors,” he said. “We have a few guys that we getting healthy that weren’t before, so getting them back will be big for us. We also have a few guys joining us for outdoors that weren’t there for indoors. Hopefully, this experience will show our younger guys what they are up against and we will be a stronger team for outdoors.”

As for Peddlar? He’s accomplished the goal he set for himself as a freshman, so what’s next?

“There’s the Big Ten Outdoor Championship in the long jump,” he said. “Besides, you can always improve. My work is definitely not over.”

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