Junior Adam Harris waved the Dual Pennant flag above his head and led the Michigan men’s track and field team in a victory lap around the Indoor Track Building.
The Wolverines jogged much slower in that lap than in any of their races, acknowledging the large crowd that supported them in their win over Ohio State.
“We definitely fed off the energy of the crowd,” freshman Carl Buchanon said. “Seeing everyone here wearing maize and blue was so crazy.”
The meet drew 1,353 fans, far more than the team normally attracts. All the bleachers around the track were filled, and some fans had to stand to get a view of the action.
To enliven the atmosphere, the Men’s Glee Club and Michigan cheerleaders performed before the events.
“It was a really good turnout, and we were really happy with it,” junior Rob Fiorillo said. “Most of the time, track is a pretty low-key sport. We even had to give a map to all the cheerleaders to figure out how to get here.”
Despite the initial confusion, the cheerleaders made it, and the crowd enthusiastically responded to their performance. Their cheers, in combination with the crowd, were loud and impossible to ignore. Some of the athletes couldn’t help but pump their fists when spectators broke into “The Victors.”
“This was our first time at a track meet, but it was really fun,” sophomore cheerleader Andrea Manney said. “We had a lot of crowd reaction and participation. A Michigan-Ohio State meet is always important, and the crowd was excited about it.”
The crowd had much reason to be excited during the meet, as well.
Several events – including the mile, the 400-meter dash and the 600-meter run – came down to the wire. Fans were on their feet straining to get a better look at the close races, cheering loudly and encouraging the Wolverine runners in their final push.
One of the most memorable moments of the day came when co-captain sophomore John Kipf reached 7-0 in the high jump, a new career-high and an NCAA qualifying mark, bringing audience members out of their seats for a rowdy standing ovation.
But for as loud as the crowd was after Kipf landed, they were equally as silent before the 60-meter dash. Fans knew that Harris had broken the 60-meter dash record just a week before and had potential to do even better.
Although Harris finished.02 seconds away from an automatic NCAA qualifying time, he triumphed in the event, and the fans acknowledged him with raucous cheers.
“The crowd had enough track savvy to figure out how stuff worked, and it just created such a great atmosphere,” Michigan assistant coach David Kaiser said. “Ann Arbor is such a great running community anyway. So it didn’t surprise me too much, but it was great to see.”
Kaiser also felt the connection between the crowd and team contributed to some of the Wolverines’ tight victories.
“Ohio State and us were pretty evenly matched,” Kaiser said. “Anytime you have that head-to-head competition, the kids just want to give it that little extra effort, and I think the crowd appreciates that.”