The Michigan men’s track and field team played host to 20 teams Friday and Saturday at Ferry Field at the 2002 Len Paddock Invitational. The event marked the team’s first and only home meet of the outdoor season.
Michigan freshman Alan Webb capped off Friday’s action, posting a time of 3:41.46 in the men’s invitational 1,500-meter run with help from his teammate, freshman Nathan Brannen. Brannen set the pace for Webb through the first 900 meters of the race, before dropping out. The time was good enough to earn Webb an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, which will begin Wednesday, May 29 in Baton Rouge, La.
“I finally got a halfway decent race in this year,” Webb said, alluding to the difficulty he has experienced this outdoor season – difficulties such as a ninth-place finish several weeks ago in his first race back from injury.
“It’s no Olympic gold medal,” Webb said. “But it’s a step in the right direction, which makes me really happy.”
Saturday, Webb returned the favor to his teammate, pacing Brannen through the first 600 meters of the 800-meter run. Brannen’s time of 1:47.62 was just shy of the 1:47.5 time required for an automatic NCAA Championship berth. There was no disappointment with the sub-four-minute miler’s performance, however, because few other athletes have eclipsed the required mark, meaning Brannen should join Webb at NCAAs.
“Being that he’s fifth-ranked in the country, his time will get him into nationals,” said Michigan coach Ron Warhurst.
Webb’s assistance appeared to help, though, as Brennan ran over a second faster than he did a week ago at the Jesse Owens Classic in Columbus despite windy conditions on Saturday.
“I thought it was a pretty cool idea for two kids of that ability and that caliber,” said Warhurst of the team effort.
Webb and Brannen join senior and team tri-captain Mike Wisniewski as the only Wolverines to have qualified for NCAAs thus far. Wisniewski posted an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 28:55.89 in the 10,000-meter run at the Cardinal Invitational on March 30.
Attention now shifts to Madison, where the team will compete in the Big Ten Championships next weekend. Warhurst remains confident in the team’s chances to qualify additional athletes for nationals, namely senior tri-captains Derek Applewhite and Ike Okenwa.
“Our focus is to go to the Big Ten and perform as best we can,” said Warhurst, “We’ve still got a lot of running ahead of us.”