YPSILANTI – Todd Iacovelli was tired. Running in his first competitive race of the season, and perhaps the last of his Michigan career, the senior was just trying to hang on as he neared the 5,000-meter mark. And that’s where he found the inspiration he needed, in the form of junior James Reichardt.

“James was really helping me out from 5 to 6k,” Iacovelli said. “I was kind of hurting. There ended up being a pack of us, and I just wanted to make sure I got myself in the front of the pack.”

Iacovelli was the story for the Wolverines on Friday at the EMU Classic in Ypsilanti. Running in a non-scoring meet, with many of the team’s top runners sitting out to rest for the upcoming Big Ten Championships, the senior posted a time of 25:10.3 to finish fifth. Beset by injuries for the whole year, Iacovelli finally got a chance to run and made the most of it.

“Todd Iacovelli ran great today,” Michigan coach Ron Warhurst said. “He had been out (due to injury) three or four weeks, and has only been training for three weeks. He just ran great.”

Iacovelli’s performance overshadowed an equally impressive one by Reichardt. Neck-in-neck with Iacovelli for much of the race, Reichardt only faltered at the end, unable to match his teammate’s final kick.

“I tried to go with him,” Reichardt said. “I knew I couldn’t get him, but I was still feeling good at the end, so I was just trying to kick hard.”

Reichardt’s final kick earned him a sixth-place finish of 25:13.2, just three seconds off his teammate’s fifth place time. The performance was a personal-best for Reichardt, who trimmed 21 seconds off his previous record.

“I am pleased with the race,” Reichardt said. “It kind of ended up going out how I wanted it to.”

Other Michigan notables included two freshmen, Tony Nalli and Mark Pokora, who ended the race at 17th and 30th places. Pokora’s time of 26:24.5 was also a personal-best, bettering his previous mark by 39 seconds.

“Tony Nalli and Mark Pokora were back in there,” Warhurst said. “They both ran very well.”

The Wolverines will now prepare for Sunday’s Big Ten Championship. And though the EMU classic wasn’t significant, Warhurst pointed to Iacovelli as an example of the dedication the team needs to succeed in the postseason.

“It’s a very low-key meet,” Warhurst said. “But it’s also really good for the team to watch a guy like Todd who’s been kind of hurt and injured train back up and run a very good race. It helps them understand just how hard they need to work.”

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