SOUTH BEND — The gate to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Arkansas is wide open for the No. 2 men’s track and field team. The Wolverines posted six NCAA qualifying times — five provisional marks and one automatic — at the Meyo Invitational this weekend.

The annual event pitted the Wolverines against some of the top teams in the nation, including Indiana, Alabama and Illinois — all of which are in the top 10 of the Trackwire Team Power Rankings.

Junior Nick Willis guaranteed himself an automatic flight for his time in the 3,000-meter run. The three-time NCAA All-American dominated the elite 28-man field with a blazing time of 7:48.65 — the fastest collegiate 3,000-meter time of the year. Willis ran with the top pack for most of race before taking the lead with 600 meters to go. He finished comfortably ahead of Indiana’s Stephen Haas.

Even more impressive was Willis’s smooth return to competition, after suffering a stress fracture in his femur in October. In the time between this weekend and the Olympic qualifiers in August, Willis had only one race under his belt — the cross country pre-nationals in October.

“I’m blown away,” Willis said. “It’s pretty amazing for me to come back like this. It keeps on blowing me away what God allows my legs to do. I’ve never written off any situation in my career, but it was still far beyond my expectations.”

Willis was joined in the 3,000-meter run by freshman teammate Mike Woods, who finished seventh with a time of 8:02.01, fast enough for an NCAA provisional standard and the Canadian junior record. This was Woods’s second provisional mark of the season — his first came last week in the mile at the Boston Indoor Games.

“I am pretty pumped,” Woods said. “I didn’t know what to expect coming in. I could have run anywhere from 7:58 to 8:10, but I came in with an open mind, and it worked out good for me.”

Sophomore Jeff Porter achieved his provisional mark in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.89. The defending Big Ten indoor hurdles champion was relieved to get the mark after missing the provisional standard by .04 ticks at the Boston University Invitational last week.

“It feels like a monkey off my back,” Porter said. “I finally got that provisional qualifying out of my way, so I can work on bigger and better things.”

Porter’s ultimate goal is to automatically qualify for the NCAAs. His progress so far this season has him confident he will do so.

“This is very exciting because I am ahead of where I was last year at this time,” Porter said. “My times are going to keep getting lower.”

But the poster boy for progress is senior Rondell Ruff, who trimmed 3.31 seconds off his personal-best mile time on Saturday. Ruff’s time of 4:04.68 was fast enough for his first provisional mark of the year. It was not the ideal race for Ruff, who got bumped at the start. Ruff ran most of the race in last place before moving up six spots to finish in seventh place.

After opening the indoor season at 4:20.95, Ruff has made clear improvement in the mile. Despite his long strides, Ruff is in no hurry to call the season a success.

“I am really confident in my ability to run faster,” Ruff said. “I am also confident in the training that my coach has me doing right now. (Qualifying provisionally) feels pretty good, but I would have liked to have gotten that automatic time to make sure I get in.”

The last individual qualifier for Michigan was senior Nate Brannen, who made headlines last weekend when he missed the collegiate mile record by .11 seconds. On Saturday, Brannen ran the 800-meter run in 1:49.07 — a provisional mark — but needs to shave off another second if he wants to guarantee himself a chance to defend his title as two-time NCAA champion in the indoor event.

The Wolverines combined four of their top runners on Friday to qualify provisionally in the distance medley relay. Woods and Brannen joined junior Andrew Ellerton and sophomore Stann Waithe en route to a first-place finish and a time of 9.36.03 — the second fastest collegiate mark of the year in the four-man event.

The lone standout for Michigan’s field team was junior high jumper Brad Miller, who finished tied for fourth. His jump of 6-11 was three inches higher than his previous personal record.

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