Although the Michigan men’s track team didn’t bring home the gold in its trip to Penn State this weekend, individual Wolverines certainly did. It was a meet of personal bests for many of the team members, including redshirt junior Ryan Hesselink, whose first place finish in the 3,000-meter run scored points for the team.
“I had no idea what the competition was going to be like,” Hesselink said. “But I knew I was in shape and I’d been training hard for the past few weeks. You do whatever is necessary to finish in the best possible position you can.”
On Friday, the team made the seven-hour drive to State College for the Sykes-Sabok Challenge Cup to compete against 10 teams, including rivals Penn State and Ohio State. In fifth place after the first day of competition, Michigan improved on Saturday to take fourth place overall with a total of 80 points. Ohio State, Penn State and Central Michigan took first, second and third, respectively.
Even with the fourth-place finish, Michigan coach Ron Warhurst was happy with the meet’s results.
“We had many season-bests,” Warhurst said. “Performance-wise, we are certainly moving up the list.”
On Saturday the Wolverines shined most, earning 64 points to launch them ahead of East Carolina. Twelve members of the team finished among the top-10 in their events.
There were several Michigan stars in the 600-meter run. Freshman Andrew Ellerton crossed the finish line in first with his time of 1:19.11, while sophomore teammate Seth Waits wasn’t far behind when he took third.
“I was shooting more for a good time (than for a win),” said Ellerton, who was entered into the race at the last minute. “The banked turns made (the race) faster and easier.”
Ellerton’s race was a close one, with the freshman taking the lead in the last 30 meters of the run.
Redshirt freshman Kaj Johansson also excelled, earning points with his sixth place finish.
“I felt really good about my race,” Johansson said. “It was a fast track because the edges were banked. The curves were raised at 45-degree angles and hollow underneath.”
Running in the 3,000-meter run with Hesselink, senior transfer Alex L’Hereux and redshirt junior Nick Stanko also achieved season bests, taking fourth and fifth, respectively.
Freshman Nick Willis, who just last week joined Nate Brannen to run the mile in under four minutes, had a great 800-meter run. The newcomer came in second with 1:50.29, only a fraction of a second behind the winner.
Friday’s competition left several Wolverines with smiles on their faces, too.
Redshirt freshman Sean Moore took seventh in the 5,000-meter run with 14:49.68. Moore, who has sat out much of the season with injuries, said he was a little disappointed in his time, but happy that he scored points for the team.
“Twenty-five laps around an indoor track is really grueling for us distance guys,” Moore said. “The races get really physical. One of our 800-meter guys, Phil Stead, actually got knocked out of his race – he got tripped and pushed down.”
Also on Friday, junior David Malonson’s 23-4 was far enough to take fourth in the long-jump and football crossover Braylon Edwards captured eighth in the 60-meter dash.
“We used the meet as more of a tune up for Big Tens,” said Moore, referring to the Big Ten Indoor Championships set for Mar. 1-2 in Champaign. “It was a big meet, but in retrospect, it was just like another stepping stone or another practice for us.”