Steve Adams has held the Michigan indoor shot-put record since 1972, but at this year’s banquet, Michigan coach Fred LaPlante jokingly warned him that this would be the year the record would be broken. He was referring to redshirt sophomore Cody Riffle, who had his sights set on the mark that has stood for 41 years. Riffle had the chance to sit down with Adams, who was honored at the banquet, making the record more than just a name.
“This guy’s a monster, I was just dwarfed by him,” Riffle said. “It was cool to see the history of Michigan shot putting and be a part of it.”
When the men’s track team traveled to Allendale, Mich for a dual meet with Michigan State on Saturday, Riffle made good on his coach’s promise. Thanks in part to Riffle’s record-breaking 19.25-meter throw, the Michigan men’s track team took down the Spartans, 88-74, in the first dual meet between the teams after a 31-year hiatus.
“The competition and the rivalry pushed me to that level,” Riffle said of his record-breaking performance. “So, I think that is a good thing since we will be seeing them a few more times this season.”
Riffle was not the only record breaker of the day — redshirt junior Ethan Dennis broke the Michigan record for weight throw with a 21.20-meter performance on his first attempt of the meet.
Dennis kicked off the meet with all eyes on him in the event.
“It definitely set the tone for the meet,” LaPlante said. “It gave our guys a lot of confidence and gave our opposition a sense that we were there to do some business.”
Added Dennis: “To do it as the first event of the meet was really exciting. You could tell everyone was pretty fired up after that.”
The throwers have emerged as one of Michigan’s strongest groups on the team, a change from years past. Until this year, only two or three throwers competed for the Wolverines on a regular basis. Now there are five or six, and they are finding strength in numbers.
“I think that’s the reason we’re doing so well this season honestly,” Riffle said. “When you have these teams that are all riled up, you feel pretty alone out there. When you have a big crew, it pushes you to do your best, not only for yourself, but for them.”
In addition to the two throwing events, the Wolverines were able to win three of the other four field events. Some wins came from performances that did not go as well as planned, though, including redshirt junior Bradley James in the high jump and senior Jack Greenlee in the pole vault, who both won by having fewer misses rather than achieving a higher height.
“Those are what we call ugly wins because both of them had an off day,” LaPlante said. “The fact that they hung in there and were able to pull out the victory was big.”
Seniors Dan Lowry and Bobby April came up big late in the meet, taking first and second in the 3,000-meter run, with both breaking the dual-meet record with times of 8:03.56 and 8:05.37, respectively.
According to LaPlante, there were two key events that led to the win over Michigan State — sophomore James Vincent won long jump with a big jump of 6.89 meters and junior Ali Arastu won the 600-meter run, a race that was evenly matched across the board.
Michigan took full advantage of the chance to go head to head with the Spartans, setting 12 personal records in total en route to the win.
“When you come to Michigan as an athlete, you dream about the rivalries with Ohio State and Michigan State,” LaPlante said. “In our sport, you don’t get opportunities like this.”