Michigan men’s track head coach Ron Warhurst seems to always have a theory on how to take an athletic team to the top. No folks, it’s not less rectal-cranial inversion this time, a theory stressed by Warhurst before. Now, something new:
“No shitting the bed.”
In other words, confidence is the key to overall athletic success – being nervous is not. The Big Ten Championships are coming up, and the Wolverines have no room for nervousness.
“The guys need to have confidence to get to the Big Tens. You can’t get there and just assume to perform well – it’s not that easy,” Warhurst said. “With a team, take 100 percent. You always hope 80 percent will reach their personal records, their max, at a meet. Then 10 percent will go way beyond their previous performance level. Then the last 10 percent, they’re the ones who won’t perform at the level they have before,” Warhurst said.
Over the past few weeks, Warhurst has structured team practices and other preparations for meets in an environment facilitating determination and no emotional attachment. He believes that being scared before running in a meet stands in the way of performing well and working positively for one’s team.
“Butterflies are normal, but being nervous is a waste of time,” Warhurst said. “Someone coming at you with a gun is a reason to get scared, not running against someone. Everyone at the meet is scared, not just you.”
With the Wolverines’ last invitational coming up this weekend, a week before the Big Ten Championships, Michigan is cramped for time and must make the best out of the next two weeks.
“This Friday, I’m going to really work the guys.” Warhurst said. “They’ll be running for a long time.”
This Saturday’s Harold Silverston Invitational is a small rung of the ladder that Michigan is climbing. According to Warhurst, it is important for runners to think of the invite as just a big practice for the Championships. Sophomore Sean Moore, who will be running the mile for Michigan this Saturday, realizes how crucial meets are to building a runner’s endurance, both mentally and physically, especially before a competition like the Big Ten meet.
“This meet is a complete tune-up for the Big Tens. It’s just a good chance for more freshmen to run, too. We need to relax,” Moore said.
While it is important to relax, with the Big Tens and the NCAA Championships just two weeks apart, the Wolverines need to kick it into high gear this weekend if they don’t want to end up in 10th place in the Big Tens, something Warhurst will not accept.
“Being last won’t cut it. With the way the team’s working now, I’m hoping to get fifth, sixth or better,” Warhurst said. “With running, if you can’t work and perform well within your emotions, then you’re in the wrong sport. Our guys are able to do just that.”
This weekend, Michigan expects to meet other teams, such as Western Michigan, Hillsdale and Eastern Michigan. And although many of Michigan’s top runners, such as Nathan Brannen and Nick Willis, will not be running, look out for something great from runners like freshmen Andrew Ellerton and Joe Schramski, and sophomore Rondell Ruff. Ellerton was the winner of the 600-meter last weekend with a time of 1:19.11, Michigan’s best time yet.