Four athletes earned their way into the Michigan indoor track record book — now those four men will be going to the NCAA Championship this weekend at the University of Arkansas’ indoor track.
The throwing events have been a strength for the Wolverines all year — now redshirt sophomore Cody Riffle and redshirt junior Ethan Dennis will get the chance to compete on the biggest stage together.
“We feed off each other’s energy when we do well,” Riffle said. “It will be nice to have that comfort factor.”
Riffle and Dennis both broke the school record in their respective events at the same meet when the team traveled to Allendale, Mich., for a dual meet with Michigan State. Dennis will be competing in the national title for the second straight year. Last year, he earned All-American second-team honors with his 14th-place finish. This will be Riffle’s first national appereance.
Competing alongside the throwers will be fifth-year seniors Dan Lowry and Bobby Aprill in the 5,000-meter run. The two of them crossed the finish line at the Husky Classic on Feb. 8 within two seconds of each other with Lowry in front, both ahead of the school record.
“It’s comforting knowing that I have a teammate in the race, and we have helped each other in races before,” Lowry said. “We have trained every step together so I think that’s why we always finish next to each other.”
“I think we both have the same goal in mind,” Lowry added. “We are both just trying to crack the top eight and if we can help each other do that, that would be great.”
Aprill and Lowry also finished right next to each other at the Big Ten Championship to take fourth and fifth. They will see three other Big Ten runners from Wisconsin in their race.
Riffle and Dennis enter the meet seeded 10th and 11th in their respective events, while Lowry and Aprill have earned the 13th and 14th seeds in their event.
“We will definitely be supporting those guys,” Lowry said. “And it’s always nice to have guys yelling during your race so I think it makes the meet that much more exciting.”
Along with strength in numbers, the Wolverines will be using this as a chance to gain some experience. With competitors in multiple events that span both days of competition, they will get the chance to see the whole meet — something that will help when they bring athletes back in the future.
Based on the performances throughout the season, the 16 best athletes in each event and the 12 best relays are invited to the championship meet. Anyone who scores at the meet earns All-American first-team honors and is given a plaque. For an individual to do this, they must finish in the top eight. Places nine through 16 are awarded All-American second-team honors.
“It’s encouraging to see how what we’ve done has paid off,” Riffle said. “All the sweat we put in over the summer, all the hours — it’s starting to really do something. It’s a great confidence booster, something I needed coming into this meet.”