March 12, 2016
» Bastien has set and re-broken the program record three times, as he is now in his second season at U-M.
» This weekend's finish marks the best national meet in the Jerry Clayton era (now in its third year), with five All-America athletes (Bastien, DMR: Mora, McLaughlin, Munley, Ferlic).
Site: Birmingham, Ala. (Birmingham Crossplex)
Event: NCAA Indoor Championships (Day 2)
U-M Team Result: Tie-58th Place (2 points)
Next U-M Event: Fri-Sat., March 25-26 -- at Pac 12 vs. Big Ten Challenge (Tempe, Ariz.)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The University of Michigan men's track and field team wrapped up a statement weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championships on Saturday (March 12), with all five competing athletes earning All-America honors at Birmingham Crossplex. After the distance medley relay placed eighth on Friday evening (March 11), senior/junior Steven Bastien continued the trend with his second consecutive eighth-place heptathlon finish.
For Clayton and his staff, the goal of helping each of their five competing athletes achieve All-America honors was an important one. Now that it has been fulfilled, he is proud of the hard work and effort of his student-athletes and staff members.
"It's definitely a step forward for our program," said Clayton.
"Going into this weekend, the first goal was to get everyone that qualified here to leave as an All-American, and we achieved that. Obviously, we would have liked to score more points -- everybody does -- but coming home with five All-Americans is a huge step in the right direction, and on top of that, every one of them competed well in the championship."
Bastien capped the weekend off in nail-biting fashion. He entered the 1,000-meter run, the final event of the day, in ninth place with the knowledge that he needed to beat Indiana's Dylan Anderson by a specific margin to seal an eighth-place finish -- about four to five seconds. His margin of victory was nearly triple that, and when he crossed the finish line, he did it as a two-time All-American, though a tired one, to be sure.
"I had to take (the 1,000-meter race) out at the gun and pace it much faster than I have in a long time," he explained, "probably since I was younger and more ignorant about how to do all of this. I tried to gut it out -- it was a lot tougher than I thought it'd be."
Gut it out he did.
"He did an outstanding job," said Clayton.
"He didn't have any PRs, but he was so close; within hundredths of seconds and within centimeters of his personal bests in many of the events, and that's why he was able to put together a score that ended up being a personal best overall."
Bastien was grateful for the opportunity to once again measure himself against the nation's best, thanking those who helped him reach his goal.
"I want to thank God first of all and my coaches for setting me up the right way for this," he said.
"There are a lot of things that can go wrong at this meet, but I was happy with my performance."
He certainly should be. According to Clayton, this weekend's field provided some of the stiffest competition ever seen at the championship meet.
"That's probably the deepest and toughest Heptathlon in NCAA history indoors," said Clayton.
"To score 5,810 (points) and end up eighth -- that's a deep field, but Steven really competed well, and it's a credit to him."
The depth and quality of competition was certainly not lost on Bastien, either.
"The other competitors in the field made this a tougher meet than last year's competition," he said, "and it was a really talented field. It was a blessing to be able to compete here and compete against these awesome athletes."
Bastien began his career at Samford University, the host school this weekend, so he had plenty of friends and family in attendance to see him compete this weekend. To accomplish what he did in front of those close to him, and in a place where he spent years dreaming of and training for this moment, made this honor all the more special.
"I have a lot of friends from my old school (Samford) here, plus both of my parents and my dad's old track and field coach, and it was really awesome to do this here in front of them," he said.
Bastien continued to flirt with PRs on Saturday after coming .01 seconds shy of a new best in the 60-meter dash on Friday. He opened day-two action with an 8.36-second effort for 893 points in the 60-meter hurdles, barely off his PR of 8.34 set earlier this season.
As the pole vault competition began, Bastien was positioned ninth. After clearing the opening bar easily at 4.40 meters (15-5.25 ft.), Bastien cleared the bar at 4.60 meters (15-1) before moving to his final height.
He came over the bar at 4.70 meters (15-5 ft.) but was unable to clear the next progression at 4.80 meters (15-9 ft.), which would have come just one foot shy of his personal best set at the Big Ten Championships last month. Bastien's performance tallied another 819 points towards his total, as he approached the 1,000-meter run with everything on the line.
Throughout the pole vault competition, Georgia's Garrett Scantling and Wisconsin's Zach Ziemek jockeyed back and forth for the overall lead, but Ziemek emerged late into the event to take a commanding lead. By the 1,000-meter run, Ziemek had opened his cushion to 111 points and went on to total 6,173 points for the title.
Bastien's second All-America finish in as many years is an encouraging development as he heads to the outdoor season to compete in his first decathlon competitions as a Wolverine (Bastine red-shirted during 2015 outdoor season). The collective energy this weekend's performances will provide to the program is not to be overlooked.
"We have a good chance to hopefully improve on both the conference and the national finishes during the outdoor season," said Clayton.
"There is no question the momentum we've gained is important. It all started with cross country winning the Big Ten Championship and then it carried into indoors, where we had set goals for ourselves. The team attained many of the goals this year and now we go to the final phase which is the outdoor season, and I feel the momentum is with us."
Along with his teammates in the DMR, Bastien is proud to have helped provide a memorable weekend for U-M and jolt of national relevancy for the program.
"It's such a huge step forward for this historic program," he said, "and it's awesome to be able to come here and represent Michigan with these guys and achieve the highest level of stature in the sport.
U-M will now focus on the outdoor season after a weekend off competition, getting back to action with the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Challenge at the end of the month (March 26-27) in Tempe, Arizona.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
-- Michigan Track&Field (@umichtrack) March 12, 2016
Communications Contact: Chad Shepard