Surrounded by almost 1,400 screaming fans at the Indoor Track Building, it was nothing but beaming smiles and cries of “Hail to the Victors” for the Michigan men’s track and field team.
In a dual meet rivalry known as “The Dual,” a chapter of the storied rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State was renewed Saturday afternoon after a 15-year hiatus with performances defined by pure athleticism.
Something Michigan junior Adam Harris has a huge supply of.
Fittingly, it was Harris who led the Wolverines on a victory lap holding the brand-new Dual Pennant, a trophy given to The Dual’s reigning champion, after the Wolverines reignited the 100-year old tradition with a 90-71 victory.
It was during Harris’s 60-meter dash, the Wolverine’s record-holder in that event, that the packed crowd went silent as it watched Harris blow past the competition. He finished almost four tenths of a second in front of the second-place finisher with a 6.65.
“I figured we could take them,” Harris said, “They haven’t been that competitive in the Big Ten, so we came in pretty confident.”
Harris’s confidence was justified. He also won the long jump and the 200-meter dash.
Redshirt sophomore thrower Brendan Lodge said Harris is so athletic he “wouldn’t be surprised if [he] picked up a pole vault or a shot sometime soon and competed.”
Ohio State took an early lead with easy victories in the weight throw and pole vault. Trailing early, it was Michigan sophomore captain John Kipf who ignited the team’s performance with a personal record of seven feet in the high jump, becoming the first Wolverine in 13 years to clear seven feet in the event.
After an overwhelming victory in the triple jump, Michigan was locked in an instant classic, placing junior captain and All-American Lex Williams in a neck-and-neck race with Ohio State All-American Jeff See in the final lap of the mile race. Although Williams lost the race, his effort and determination defined the rest of the Wolverines’ day.
Trailing 17-16, Michigan pulled out a huge victory in the 60-meter hurdles as sophomore Frank Shotwell, redshirt freshman Nick McCampbell and freshman Carl Buchanon swept the top three positions. This sweep gave the Wolverines a lead that they never lost, posting victories in the final five events.
Perhaps the most exciting race of the day took place in the second heat of the 600-meter dash where Michigan sophomore Ricky Fleming stole the show. Trailing the entire race, Fleming waited until the last straightaway to turn on the burners just as the Buckeye leader ran out of gas.
Michigan coach Ron Warhurst called the team’s performance “fantastic” and “outstanding” and said it was Michigan’s best early-season performance in 10 years.
Maybe it was the extraordinary atmosphere, quite uncommon for a track meet, complete with screaming fans and cheerleaders, but the Wolverines had a spring in their step in the first revival of The Dual.
After seeing the pride in the Wolverines’ eyes during their victory lap, it’s hard to imagine that they’ll be giving up that pennant without a fight.