When Michigan junior Mike Wisniewski came out of his season”s slump to win the 10,000-meter run at the Big Ten Championships this past weekend in Bloomington, many people wondered what helped him to a conference win.
Michigan coach Ron Warhurst had the answer.
“I threatened him, plain and simple,” Warhurst joked.
Wisniewski”s win was the sole first-place finish for the Wolverines, who finished tied for eighth with Michigan State in the championships with 43 points. Wisconsin defended its title from last year with 135 points.
Although Wisniewski didn”t qualify for nationals, his race was one of the most exciting of the meet. His time of 29:49.65 was just .01 seconds faster than the next competitor as he edged out Purdue”s Donnie Fellows for the win.
“There was no point in trying to qualify for nationals,” Warhurst said.
“It”s a much better situation for him to repeat as Big Ten champion than it would be to get third or fourth in a race and go to the nationals to be unheard of.”
Wisniewski also became the third Wolverine to win consecutive titles in the event, following in the tracks of John Scherer (1988-89) and John Mortimer (1997-98).
Another junior who made a strong showing in the meet was Ike Okenwa. Okenwa scored for the Wolverines in two events, running 10.52 to finish fourth in the 100-meter dash and he finished fifth in the 200 meters with a time of 21.07.
Okenwa”s times were an accurate representation of his season so far, as he ran within hundredths of a second of his seasonal best in each event.
Said Okenwa: “Every race I just go in there thinking that it is the Big Ten meet.” That mentality helped him in the actual meet.
Also scoring for the Wolverines were Oded Padan, who finished third in the triple jump with a leap of 49-07 and Andy Derr, who”s toss of 204-08 led him to a fifth-place finish in the javelin. Brain Turner, the only freshman to score for the Wolverines in the championships, ran 3:51.08 to finish fourth in the 1,500-meter run, while Phil Stead ran to an eighth-place finish in the 800-meter run, clocking 1:52.07. Brent Sheffer rounded out the scoring for the Wolverines, jumping 16-04 3/4 to finish seventh in the pole vault.