Senior pole vaulter Kevin Peterman waited three years before officially joining the men’s track team. He was certainly well worth the wait, claiming the top spot in the pole vault with a height of 15-11 at the Jack Harvey Invitational in Ann Arbor on Saturday.
The non-scoring meet — the first meet of the season for the Wolverines — featured the local colleges of Eastern Michigan, Findlay, Hillsdale, Detroit and Siena Heights. Despite a lineup without Michigan’s top runners, the Wolverines were still competitive, dominating the one-mile, 600-meter and 4×400-meter relay runs. But Peterman’s pole vault of nearly 16 feet was arguably the highlight of the day.
Peterman has had an interesting career at Michigan, competing for the first time ever with the Wolverines this year. He was recruited for track coming out of high school but left the team shortly after the start of his freshman year because classes interfered with the team. He competed unattached at various meets in the last two years, but finally decided to join the team this year.
“Last year, I competed unattached and I set a personal best of 15-feet, 3-inches,” Peterman said. “That got me excited about it. I have a little bit lighter schedule this year, and I have more time available (for track). I didn’t expect to go quite as high, but I’ve been working out and got some good tips from (Michigan assistant coach David Kaiser). I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Peterman hopes to get up to 16 feet by the end of the season. His performance certainly caught the eye of his coach.
“He’s a great story because he’s been in school for four years and this is the first time he’s really competed for Michigan,” coach Ron Warhurst said. “It appears that he handles the competition well, and it’s just great.”
On the track, senior Rondell Ruff earned first place in the mile with a time of 4:20.95, followed by fellow Wolverines James Riechart and Dan Murray. Ruff, who excelled in the 800-meter in previous years, said he was pleased with his performance and hopes to make the mile his main event.
He said he wants to be around the 4:10 range as the season progresses, but is aware that it is still early in the season.
“This year I feel a little stronger, and I’m able to compete better in the mile than in previous years,” Ruff said. “It was a slow mile, but it helps my legs to get going a little faster. After cross country season, we haven’t raced for a long time. The purpose of this meet is to just get us used to racing again.”
In the 800-meter run, redshirt freshman Brian Les took first place with a time of 1:57.58. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Gall, who was running neck-and-neck with teammate Les the entire race, was a tenth of a second behind him.
Warhurst was pleased with the team’s overall performance on Saturday and felt it was a good warm-up for the rest of the season.
“Coming off the holidays, they’ve been gone a few weeks, and they don’t have access to a lot of training facilities when they’re gone,” Warhurst said. “This is kind of like a ‘Let’s-not-kill-each-other-(meet). Lets just get comfortable and get into the competition, and, the next two to three weeks, we’ll really start lighting it up.”
Michigan will travel to Ypsilanti next weekend for the Eastern Michigan Invitational