With the crowd on their feet, slapping their hands together in admiration, the Wolverine fans cheered as their very own Mike Woods raced down lane No. 1 on the final lap of the 3,000-meter run to claim – second place?
Although he didn’t capture a victory, sophomore Mike Woods may have had Saturday’s most impressive performance during this past weekend’s Red Simmons Track and Field Invitational.
In the much anticipated event, the race came down to Woods and former Michigan standout Nate Brannen. Brannen, now an assistant coach for the team and a Reebok-sponsored athlete, comfortably hung around the head of the pack for the first 1,000 meters. Woods made a gutsy move to the front and held the lead shortly before Brannen took over the final 1,000 meters and left Woods with a second-place finish. Knowing the competition he was up against, Woods couldn’t be disappointed in the result. After all, had it been a real collegiate race, Woods would have been the winner.
“I’m very happy with my performance,” Woods said. “One of my goals this year is to establish myself as a big name in the NCAA in my events.”
Saturday was a good start. Michigan coach Ron Warhurst echoed Woods’ sentiments about the race and said Woods probably ran the fastest collegiate 3,000-meter time in the country thus far this season. Woods finished with a mark of 7:58:55, just 2.25 seconds off of the NCAA automatic qualifying time.
Although Wolverine fans are used to seeing tremendous individual performances from their runners, Saturday’s events may have revealed something new about this year’s team: balance. In what may be a preview of things to come, three Wolverines finished in the top five of the race, with sophomore Victor Gras and freshman Lex Williams taking fourth and fifth, respectively.