In last year’s men’s track and field Big Ten Championships, Michigan came in second in the 4×100-meter relay. The team of then-redshirt sophomore Shakir Edwards, then-senior Jeff Porter and then-sophomores Andre Barnes and Adam Harris finished more than half a second behind Wisconsin.
This year, the Wolverines could flip that result.
At day two of the non-scoring Len Paddock Invitational in Ann Arbor, the Michigan coaching staff spiced things up by putting Barnes in the second leg and fifth-year senior Stann Waithe in the third.
The move resulted in a first-place finish with a time that would’ve topped the Badgers by more than half a second at last year’s Big Tens.
“Obviously it appeared to make a difference, as we ran almost five-tenths of a second faster,” Michigan associate head coach Fred LaPlante said through the Athletic Department. “I know that the guys are really excited. We have a strong team, we just weren’t hitting the marks we thought we were capable of hitting, so it worked well.”
Michigan’s time, good enough to qualify for the NCAA Regional, is the best in the conference and fifth fastest in the region. In just its second time running the relay together this season, the team fell just .28 seconds away from the school record.
Redshirt sophomore Chris Baldwin took fourth place in the pole vault with a career-best 15 feet nine inches.
And after winning the 400-meter hurdles last week in Columbus, redshirt junior Dan Harmsen ran the second-fastest time of his career (51.19 seconds) to finish second in that event.
“It was a good race for Harmsen,” LaPlante said through the Athletic Department.
After he set a personal record the week before and with the Big Ten Championships looming ahead, it was difficult for Harmsen to have a goal during the event. But LaPlante was happy with his performance.
But the Wolverines have gradually improved their finish since 2005. And with the 4×100-meter relay running on all cylinders, Michigan is primed to contend for its first title under Wolverine coach Ron Warhurst, who took the helm in 2000.
Click here to see a slideshow with more pictures from the Len Paddock Invitational.