All season long, the focus was on one meet: the Big Ten Indoor Championship. After months of preparation throughout the season, the men’s track and field team traveled to Geneva, Ohio, for the two-day event over the weekend. The Wolverines finished ninth with 39 points.

Fifth-year seniors Bobby Aprill and Dan Lowry provided a boost for Michigan when points were needed on Saturday by finishing fourth and fifth in the 5,000-meter run, respectively. Aprill also placed fourth in the 3,000-meter run on Friday with a career-best time of 7:53.02.

“When you get to the Big Ten meet, time isn’t as important as place,” Aprill said. “If it’s your best time, you can’t complain too much, but I definitely would have liked to see a couple higher places.”

Junior Ali Arastu scored in two events, placing sixth in both the 400-meter run and as part of the 4×400-meter relay. Freshman Nate Chapman, sophomore Philip Washington and senior Aaron Taylor joined Arastu on the relay.

Herman Washington ran a personal-best time of 7.93 in the 60-meter hurdle preliminaries to qualify for the finals, where he finished eighth. Senior Jack Greenlee had a season-best 5.22-meter performance in the pole vault that earned him a fourth-place finish.

Redshirt sophomore Cody Riffle, who broke Michigan’s indoor shot-put record earlier this season, placed fourth with a throw of 18.40 meters. Redshirt junior Ethan Dennis, who also broke a school record this year, placed sixth in weight throw.

Redshirt junior Bradley James, who has been working through a small injury for most of the season that was the result of dropping a box on his foot in the weight room, has had trouble planting his foot for the jump. Saturday, he was able to clear a height of 2.14 meters (7-0.25), good enough to place fourth in a field of nationally ranked high jumpers, including Indiana’s Derek Drouin — who is ranked fourth in the entire world.

“To get even third or fourth in any event is a huge accomplishment,” Arastu said. “We’re honestly competing against some of the best guys in the country. You could place fifth in the conference and have the seventh-best time in the nation. That just shows how good of a conference we are in.”

Facing the best in the nation makes competing within the conference difficult, but for the portion of the team that qualifies for nationals, it is a huge advantage. At the national meet, there will be a lot of the same faces, making the meet feel like a repeat of the conference championship.

“People go to Michigan, whether they’re a student or an athlete, to see how you measure up against the best,” said Michigan coach Fred LaPlante. “We’re a Top-25 team, but unfortunately, 10 of the Top-25 schools are in the Big Ten.”

The Big Ten Championship was what every other meet this year was building towards, and now that it’s over, members of the team either have to shift their focus towards the NCAA Indoor National Champinships or the outdoor season — not to mention their classes.

“Now it’s back to school,” Arastu said. “I’ve got exams all week so I have to worry about that now.”

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