Jan. 29, 2013
The University of Michigan men's track and field team will participate in its first two-day meet of the indoor season with the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 1-2). The meet is set to start at 4 p.m. on Friday and resume again on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Notre Dame's Loftus Center.
Michigan has competed in the non-scored Meyo Invitational in each of the last 10 years. The annual meets boasts roughly 80 men's and women's teams from around the country each year. The Loftus Center features one of the largest six-lane banked tracks in the nation at one-fifth of a mile. The facility's Mondo track surface, lengthy straightaway and wide turns make for optimum conditions.
The Wolverines defeated Michigan State, 88-74, on Saturday (Jan. 26) in the first head-to-head meeting between the two teams since 1982. Michigan now holds 28-2-1 overall record against the Spartans, including a 20-2-1 mark in true dual meets.
Nine different Michigan athletes recorded new personal-best marks against Michigan State. Three of those times came from Michigan's distance group, which competed for the first time this season. Fifth-year senior Bobby Aprill (Dexter, Mich./Dexter) (8:05.37), senior/junior Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge) (8:16.76) and junior/sophomore Mark Beams (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg) (8:19.45) each ran new career-best times in the 3,000-meter run.
It marked the first competition for Aprill in quite a while, as he missed the 2012 indoor season due to injury and only competed in four meets during outdoor track and field. Aprill had also previously exhausted his four years of cross country eligibility in 2011 and spent this past fall training and watching his teammates from the sidelines in anticipation for his final indoor and outdoor season in the Maize and Blue.
Michigan's win against Michigan State was led by a pair of school record-setting performances in the throwing events. Junior/sophomore Cody Riffle (Toledo, Ohio/St. John's Jesuit) set a new standard with a throw of 19.25 meters (63-2) in the shot put, while Senior/junior Ethan Dennis (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville) made his record-setting mark at 21.20 meters (69-6.75) in the weight throw. Both marks rank first in the Big Ten, while Dennis and Riffle's throws rank second and fifth in the nation, respectively.
Riffle broke a 41-year-old record set by former Wolverine Steve Adams in 1972. He had the opportunity to meet Adams in the fall at the Michigan Men's Track and Field Hall of Fame induction, where Adams was inducted in the Class of Fall 2012.
After two weeks of competition, the Wolverines have five student-athletes ranked in the Big Ten's top eight in their respective events (the top eight finishers score at championship meets). Four of the athletes are in the top three, including Dan Lowry and Bobby Aprill in the 3,000-meter run, Cody Riffle in the shot put and Ethan Dennis in the weight throw.
Dan Lowry -- 3,000m, 2nd, 8:03.56
Bobby Aprill -- 3,000m, 3rd, 8:05.37
Bradley James -- high jump, 6th, 7-0.25 ft.
Cody Riffle -- shot put, 1st, 63-2 ft.
Ethan Dennis -- weight throw, 1st, 69-6.75 ft.
# = converted time
Fifth-year senior Bobby Aprill (Dexter, Mich./Dexter), senior Jack Greenlee (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier) and junior Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville) were named tri-captains for the 2013 season. Each captain was chosen by the team and coaches to represent the different event areas -- Aprill (distance), Greenlee (field) and Arastu (sprints).
Qualifying Standards for NCAA Championships -- For the second straight year, provisional standards are no longer part of the qualifying process. Championship fields will first be filled with those who declare for their events with automatic status. Then, the remainder of the field will be filled by the highest-remaining ranked performances. [ Indoor Qualifying Standards ]
In the Spotlight
On breaking the 41-year-old school shot put record ... "It's been something that I've been working toward for a long time. It's one of the things I really took notice of when I was coming into Michigan, and it eluded me freshman year. I've had about two years to think about it and prepare for it since I didn't compete last year, so it feels great to get the record. It's definitely a confidence booster that I did it against Michigan State because in the past, I haven't had the best performances against them. It just goes to show that all the mental and physical work I've put in and Coach Saatara and my teammates have helped me with has paid off. It's pretty awesome to have finally done it and to have my name on that board in the indoor track building and be part of the history that Michigan throws is."
On meeting Steve Adams at the Hall of Fame induction in the fall ... "It was pretty amazing to get to meet him. I had seen his name before, but I didn't know much about him. I didn't know that he was going to be so big physically; he's massive. It's pretty cool because it shows how different a thrower can be and still produce marks like that. It was great because he was rooting for me to get the record; it wasn't like he was holding a grudge for me getting close to it. He told me it was about time for the record to go down. It's great that I didn't feel I was stepping on any ones toes -- it was issuing in a new era of Michigan throws. To hear him share stories about how he had never been beaten by a Buckeye, and that he had won multiple Big Ten championships was really cool. It was great to have that interaction with him before I broke the record."
On feeling relieved that he finally reached his goal of breaking the record ... "After I threw my first throw over the record, one of my teammates came up to me and asked me how it felt. It was a huge monkey off my back because I had been putting pressure on myself to do it. I see myself do it every day in practice, and I visualize it so much; it was great to finally see it happen when it counted. It feels pretty good that I have that mark now with Big Tens coming up, and that should get me to nationals as well, which has been really big goal of mine since I didn't get there my freshman year. I just need to stay consistent now, and I think I will because that's something we work with every day; just replicating throws over and over."
On Coach Saatara's role in improving the entire throwing group ... "He's been such a big part of our success. We came into a program where the whole coaching staff and everyone was used to the old way of doing things. We knew that we wanted to change what was going to be the future. Coach told us right away that we were going to change the way people looked at Michigan throws. We wanted the Block M to mean something when we showed up at meets. He's never let us get complacent and take the Block M for granted. When you see guys in our program's history who have been flag bearers at the Olympics and held world records, it's make you want to follow in their footsteps. Coach has had great experience in the past with great thrower,s and he brought his knowledge and his focus on what he wanted to do and applied it to us. All we really have to do is follow the system in order to achieve that success. It's been a breath of fresh air for everyone, and the results are really starting to show."
On the throwers success being contagious ... "I know personally that watching Ethan (Dennis) hit the No. 2 mark in the nation, he make it look so easy. It really got the momentum going for our team. Shot put was the second field event so after watching him, I said 'now I'm going to do something big because he showed us the way.' That set up big throws for me and Derek Sievers. I don't think we would have been able to do that if Ethan didn't get us started -- we would have had to pick the momentum up from nothing, so it was great to have him start out like that. Our team rallies around big performances like that. We saw last week that our 3,000m guys had a great meet as well -- Bobby Aprill and Dan Lowry. In the other field events, we pulled off some wins in tough places. I think that's going to be the focus of our season -- rallying around big performances. I think that is what's going to change this program the most."
A LOOK AHEAD
Fri-Sat., Feb. 8-9 -- at SPIRE Invitational (Geneva, Ohio), 2 p.m./10 a.m.
Fri-Sat., Feb. 8-9 -- at Husky Classic (Seattle, Wash.), 4 p.m./8 a.m. PST
Saturday, Feb. 16 -- host Silverston Invitational (U-M Indoor Track Building), 10:30 a.m.
Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423