As freshman Nick Willis entered the final lap of the 3,000-meter run at the Red Simmons Invitational on Saturday, he accelerated past the only runner ahead of him as if the first 2,800 meters of the race had been just a warmup. The freshman turned on the jets, leaving his competition behind and bringing many fans in attendance to their feet. Willis finished with a time of 7:59.19, an NCAA provisional qualifier.

Sophomore David Battani, who had a strong day as well, said “a lot of guys stepped up today, especially Nick.”

Battani finished first in his meet of the 200-meter run with a time of 22.72 and also captured fourth place overall in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.59.

“Everyone was feeding off the intensity of our teammates,” Battani said.

Finishing ahead of Battani in the 60-meter hurdles was sophomore DarNell Talbert with a time of 8.34.

Talbert’s day was not over after his victory in the hurdles. He still had to run the anchor of the 4×400-meter relay.

In the relay, the Wolverines did not get off to their best start, but their finish made up for it. Sophomore Seth Waits ran an inspiring 400 meters in the third leg of the relay, not only closing the gap, but also taking the lead before placing the race into Talbert’s hands. Talbert then completed the relay the way everyone expected that he would – in first place – with a time of 3:19.05.

“The 4 by 400 was fun,” Talbert said. He was modest after the victory, saying he was “feeding off of Seth’s energy.”

Earlier, Waits was victorious in the 600-meter run, finishing with a time of 1:21.00. Waits remained near the front before taking over the lead shortly into the second lap. Once Waits took the lead, he never allowed anyone to gain any ground on him until he was across the finish line.

The Wolverines had another great showing in the 800-meter run. Freshman Rondell Ruff (1:54.43), freshman Andrew Ellerton (1:55.13) and senior Phillip Stead (1:55.76) finished second through fourth, respectively.

As he did the week before at the Michigan Quad, Braylon Edwards, also a wide receiver on the football team, highlighted the field competition. For the second time in as many weeks, Edwards won the high jump. By clearing 6’11,” Edwards beat out teammate Adam Kring, who finished in second place.

“He is an exceptional talent on the football field and an exceptional talent out here too,” Michigan coach Ron Warhurst said.

Warhurst has been more than pleased with the contributions that Edwards has made in his first weeks with the team.

Overall, the coach was proud of the team’s performance, saying, “We’re improving a little bit each week.”

As for the remainder of the season, Warhurst’s goal is simple: “Just keep improving.”

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