By the end of March, many athletes find themselves getting
stir-crazy from all the indoor practices. Michigan runners are no
exception. While it’s invaluable for the team to be able to
get in shape when there’s snow outside, it couldn’t be
happier to be outdoors. The shortened track indoors can take its
toll on the runners, and the fresh, outdoor air rejuvenates the
Wolverines.

Ryan Nowak
Junior Dave Battani placed third in the 400-meter hurdles, and also helped the 4×400-meter relay team take second in the Florida State Relays this weekend. (RYAN WEINER/Daily)

The Michigan men’s track team shook off the cobwebs over
the weekend at the Florida State University Relays in Tallahassee,
Fla. The team’s first meet brought it exactly what it needed
— sunshine. The athletes faced heat and talented competition
the entire weekend, and fared well.

Michael Whitehead led the Wolverines with a pair of victories.
He captured first in the triple jump Gold (premier) division,
followed by a win in the Garnet (lower) division in the long
jump.

“It worked out really well, it was a really good
time,” Whitehead said. “It was very sunny the whole
time and it was really hot. I’d rather perform in the heat
than in the cold any day.”

Whitehead was able to win the triple jump with a leap of 50
feet- 4.5 inches despite fouling some of his biggest jumps to date.
His performance in the long jump of 22 feet-7 inches was a personal
best. It was only his second time competing in that event as a
Wolverine.

“I know that I can definitely do better,” Whitehead
said. “The long jump isn’t what I’m used to, but
I’m glad I could contribute.”

Michigan entered few athletes on the track, but those who did
run were able to contribute.

The top finish in the relays came from the 4×400-meter relay
team, who captured second place behind the team from the University
of Florida. Freshmen John D’Arcy and Stann Waithe, along with
juniors Seth Waits and David Battani crossed the finish line in
3:14.67.

Michigan also showed some depth in the 400-meter hurdles,
placing three competitors in the top seven. Waits captured first in
the event, knocking more than a second off his personal-best for
his third collegiate victory. Battani finished in third, while
senior Nick Meter captured seventh place. The Wolverines will be
back in action in two weeks at the Yellow Jacket Invitational in
Atlanta.

While the rest of the team was in Florida, sophomore phenom Nick
Willis got to don the jersey of his native country, New Zealand, at
the World Cross Country Championships in Brussels, Belgium. He
finished 40th out of 140 competitors in the short-course
(4000-meter) format. He was less than a minute behind the overall
winner from Ethiopia. While his time was only one second better
than when he competed last year, it was 50 places better. Willis is
red-shirting the outdoor track season in preparation for the
Olympics this summer, where he will be representing New
Zealand.

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