According to Michigan men’s track coach Ron Warhurst, there is one thing that puts an athletic team on top:

“No rectal-cranial inversion.”

Simple translation: No one with heads up their butts allowed.

In other words, yes, it is crucial for Michigan runners to do their personal bests, but it is just as important to realize that each performance reflects on the entire team.

Although Michigan’s first meet – the Jack Harvey Invitational – was non-scoring, the atmosphere was full of energy and excitement. Michigan wanted to start the season with a bang and, at the time, coaches expressed high hopes for the Wolverines.

“I think Nick (Willis) is going to be a great miler for the team this year,” Warhurst said before the invite.

And that is just what the freshman Willis has shown to be. At the invite, Willis rested and only cheered on fellow teammates. But when it came time for him to run at the next meet, versus Indiana, Michigan State and Kent State, Willis was well prepared. He ran the mile in 4:04, a NCAA provisional qualifying time. Two years ago, Willis ran 4:01 in the mile, so by the NCAA Championships, with more training, he should be ready to beat that time.

“I definitely should get under four minutes this year,” Willis said. “It’s what I’ve been running 60-70 miles per week for.”

Willis isn’t the only Wolverine expressing sheer confidence and determination.

Sophomore Nate Brannen is another excellent runner for the Wolverines. Brannen ran a 1:48 in the 800-meter run, an NCAA automatic qualifying time.

With such success among individuals, it is no coincidence that other Michigan runners are excited to run and give their best in each meet. Each teammate is an inspiration to another teammate.

“The success of each teammate has given a new spark to being a part of Michigan’s track team,” Warhurst said. “And sometimes you develop courage from watching your teammates succeed.”

So far, team camaraderie and encouragement have affected the performance of the Wolverines and increased positive attitudes. Because of the team’s companionship, the individual aspect is not the main focus, yet still important to its success. Track is an individual sport, therefore, each individual performance contributes to the overall achievement of the team. Individual success is what pushes the Wolverines to the top.

“Seeing other guys running faster and their ability to see good results – now that’s motivation,” sophomore Sean Moore said.

After missing three indoor meets due to injury, Moore is returning to join his fellow Wolverines tomorrow at the Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind.

“Winning a race is so gratifying, and I want to see results too,” Moore said. “It’s paying off for my other teammates who are setting personal bests and seeing that. I want to be a part of it.”

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