The Michigan men’s track team has been going strong throughout the season, with four invitationals and two meets knocked out of the way. But it all came down to one competition – the Alex Wilson Invitational. Now that’s pressure.
This past weekend’s events at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Complex were the last chance for three Michigan runners – seniors Ryan Hesselink, Alex L’Hereux and Nick Stanko – to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
When it was all said and done, the three Wolverines did not have the strength and confidence that coach Ron Warhurst has been ranting about all year to get them to the top. Warhurst’s comments about the invitational were unfamiliar and unenthusiastic compared to the rest of the year.
“I definitely have a good feeling about the team this year,” Warhurst said a few weeks prior to Alex Wilson. “With a team, you have 100 percent. A coach always hopes that 80 percent will reach their max, their personal bests. Then take 10 percent, and those are the guys who will go way beyond their potential and perform great. Then you’re left with the last 10 percent who won’t perform to the level they have all season.”
With such a great theory, it’s obvious that Warhurst didn’t expect three of his runners to fall into the lower 10th-percentile of his prediction, and his comments reflected that.
“They definitely didn’t perform to their potential this weekend,” Warhurst said. “And although it was a low key event, it was their last chance to qualify,”
On Friday, Hesselink and Stanko’s times for the 5,000-meter run were off by approximately 20-40 seconds to qualify for the NCAAs, with running times of 14:56.67 and 14:26.04, respectively.
Although Stanko’s time was his personal record for the indoor season, compared to his time of 14:32.65 at the Meyo Invitational a month ago, it still was not up to NCAA standards.
“It wasn’t a good race for him. This was everyone’s last chance to run fast and it didn’t happen,” Warhurst said.
Saturday, L’Hereux ran the mile with a time of 4:05.40, which was one second worse than his NCAA provisional qualifying time of 4:04.40 at the Meyo Invitational.
“He really ran a solid race,” Warhurst said. “But it just wasn’t there so nothing happened.”
The NCAA Indoor Championships should be more exciting than this past weekend’s events.
The only individual Wolverines running this upcoming weekend are freshmen Nate Brannen and Nick Willis in the one-mile run. Both will also contribute to Michigan in the distance medley relay with teammates Seth Waits and Andrew Ellerton.