Arastu Takes Fourth in Hurdles to Become NCAA All-American
Ali Arastu

June 7, 2013

Update (June 8): The Wolverines placed in a tie for 44th as a team following day four of competition. No Wolverines competed on Saturday.

Site: Eugene, Ore. (Hayward Field)
Event: NCAA Outdoor Championships (Day 3 of 4)
U-M Team Standing: Tie-33rd Place (5 points) after Day 3
Next U-M Event: Season Complete

EUGENE, Ore. -- Junior Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville) of the University of Michigan men's track and field team finished fourth in the 400-meter hurdle final on the third day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships on Friday (June 7) at the University of Oregon's historic Hayward Field.

Arastu ran a career-best time of 49.37, edging the fifth-place finisher by .02 seconds to finish fourth and score five points for the Wolverines. With his performance, he became the sixth All-America first team member in the 400-meter hurdles in program history and first since 1997 when former Wolverine Neil Gardner also recorded a fourth-place finish.

Arastu wraps up the 2013 season for the Wolverines, as U-M will not have any student-athletes in action on the final day of NCAA Outdoors.

Event Winners/U-M Finishers (Day 3)

400-meter Hurdles (Finals)
 1. Reggie Wyatt, USC                           48.58
 4. Ali Arastu, U-M                             49.37

• Previous Results: Day 2 | Day 1


Michigan Head Coach Fred LaPlante
On Ali Arastu's performance in the 400-meter hurdles ... "This is the third time he's been here. I felt last year that he was on the brink of doing what he did this year and then he got hurt after the Big Ten meet. To his credit, he just missed making the finals last year -- he was ninth. He also made it to the U.S. Olympic Trials, which was here in Eugene so I think being at this venue, he was a little more comfortable with his surroundings. He really executed very well on Wednesday to make the final and he executed very well in the final, which is why he got the place that he got. I'm not surprised at all by his performance. I think he's very capable. By doing what he accomplished this year, should really wet his appetite for what he can accomplish next season and beyond."

On Kurt Reichenbach finishing his career at nationals in the decathlon ... "He had a great Big Ten meet. To get to this meet is a tall order -- he broke the school record and had a great performance to get here. He competed in the best decathlon in NCAA track and field history this week, so to have that in his memory bank is pretty neat. He gave it 100 percent in every event, which is hard to do when it isn't your day. He was fatigued from a number of things, but he accomplished so much. It's tough to stay focused mentally and physically and he really fought hard -- that was really impressive. He scored over 7,000 points, which is a lot of points and shows what a great athlete he is. I was really proud of his performance from beginning to end, and really proud of his whole career, especially coming back his fifth year to accomplish what he did."

On having two throwers represent Michigan at the national level ... "I want to give credit to their coach, Mo Saatara -- he's done a great job of preparing those guys for the past few years to get to this point. Both Ethan (Dennis) and Cody (Riffle) have competed in the indoor national championships, so they got a feel for this atmosphere. For Cody, making the finals was great. He exceeded his seed place and to get in the finals and to be fighting for a scoring place will really boost his confidence a lot. Ethan had an off day, but he was very prepared and very ready to go. He's very close to being a big time thrower in the hammer. I don't think this performance will be discouraging as much as it will help his determination for next year. Both of those guys represented him well."

On Mason Ferlic competing in the steeplechase as a freshman ... "Mason Ferlic made it to nationals as a freshman in an event he's only been doing for a few weeks, and he just missed making the final. He had a great performance and coach Gibby gets the credit there for bringing him along. I felt Mason was very poised for this meet and just had some bad luck going over the last barrier and lost his momentum and just missed making the final. This season he had a stress fracture and mono and an iron deficiency, and at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, he was the anchor of our distance medley and he wasn't fit and didn't do all that well. And now fourth months later he's 0.2 seconds from making the NCAA final in the steeple. You can always tell these great success stories, but they mean a lot more when it's someone on your team showing that you can do it. I think the book ends of it is Kurt (Reichenbach) being a fifth-year senior and persevering and making it to nationals and then here's a freshman on the other end of it going through a bunch of stuff in one year and making it to nationals. Those two ends of the spectrum should be very motivational for our guys."

On success at nationals being contagious for the rest of the team ... "As teammates, your friends and your teammates seem to be just like you and seem to be doing all the things you're doing. Then all of a sudden they're at a national championship and you aren't there, and you think 'why can't I be there?'. The closer you are to touching what you're really after, the closer the reality is for you. We had so many guys that just missed making it to nationals. We've touched all areas of our team in terms of guys making it to nationals. So now each guy goes back to their event area and that makes the link closer for everybody to really believe they can get to this level. Kurt (Reichenbach) is the only one graduating, so all the other guys will be back. I think that will make big difference and it will be very motivating for us as we go forward."

On having five athletes experiencing the national meet in Eugene ... "I've been here many times for U.S. Olympic Trials and major meets, and there is a great atmosphere. They do a fantastic job of putting on the meet and the community does a great job. As a coach, you're happy for these kids getting this experience. If you're going to get on the big stage of our sport, to experience it here in Eugene is pretty special. They feel the excitement of the fans and people know who they are and they're really living the dream. The meet is here next year so that should be something to keep our guys focused and working hard. It was very gratifying for us as a coaching staff to see those guys come into this environment and be focused and be a big part of this competition."

U-M Junior Ali Arastu
On his race execution ... "Usually when I run that fast I don't even remember the race, which is a good thing, as Coach LaPlante always says. The main thing I've been working on is getting out hard, because I always get out a little slower -- I had to compete with these guys. I knew what I had to do. I got out hard, but those guys were still right on my tail. I knew I had a strong finish, and I could just compete the last 100 meters and give everything I had. I finished fourth, so I couldn't be happier."

On being the first U-M All-America first teamer in the 400m hurdles since 1997 ... "It's a huge accomplishment for me and for Michigan. I want to get this program back to another level, and it starts with baby steps. Hopefully, I can show some of the other guys the level we need to be competing at. This was an individual goal of mine, and I know others on the team are working hard to get to this level as well."

On finishing fourth after just missing finals last year ... "It's awesome. It still hasn't really hit me yet, but when I go back to Michigan and see all my friends and teammates, that's when it's going to really hit me. The best thing I love about running and competing is my teammates and the support system I have coming to congratulate me afterwards -- if I didn't have that, there is no way I could have made it to this point. The last two years I was happy and still competed at a high level, but I picked it up a notch this year and hopefully I can do that again next year and take it to another level."

On capping his junior year in Eugene ... "This is definitely an awesome city. Everyone always talks about running in Eugene, but you don't realize how great it is until you get here and you see the love of track and field in this city. The stands were full and people you don't even know were congratulating you. You usually don't get this with track and that really built into the energy I had during the race and helped me finish where I did."

Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423