Feb. 12, 2014
The University of Michigan men's track and field team will split its squad three ways for competition on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 14-15). The majority of the team will head to Geneva, Ohio, for a preview of the 2014 Big Ten Indoor Championship site at the SPIRE Invitational. Four distance runners will travel to Seattle, Wash., to participate in the Husky Classic -- one of the most highly competitive and heavily attended competitions of the season -- while a small group will also compete in the New Mexico Don Kirby Invitational to preview the NCAA Indoor Championship site.
WHO IS GOING WHERE?
SPIRE Invitational: Scotty Albaugh, Brad Bolton, Nate Chapman, Austin DeWildt, Ben Duncan, Justin Gaumer, Michael Hovater, Ed Hur, Bradley James, Nathan Karr, Louis Lamberti, Chris Maye, Zac Miklja, Joshua Nance, Codie Nolan, August Pappas, Michael Parker Jr., Ben Reed, Jeff Sattler, Derek Sievers, Troy Sneller, Thomas Sullivan, Stephen Sykes, James Yau
ACCORDING TO CLAYTON
On the benefit of splitting the team three ways this weekend ... "We're going to three different sites this weekend. We're taking a group to Albuquerque and that's where people that we felt could possibly qualify for nationals or have qualified in the past will go. We want them to compete in the facility prior to the national championships. We have a group that's going to Washington and that's always distance runners. That is the facility where everyone runs fast times because of the oversized track, and the competition also brings that out of them because they set a lot of those races up. Indoors, you're trying to get a top-16 seed, so the time and performance is how you get to the nationals so it's essential that you get in those type of races. And then we're going to SPIRE with the rest of the team. It's a very good facility and the one that will be hosting the Big Ten Championships. So that's why we're going three different directions."
On what he's seen so far in just two competitions ... "The athletes have done a good job. It did really hurt that we had a meet and then we ended up with two weekends off and then another meet, but it is what it is. A lot of other teams have had three meets and some of them have had four because some teams open up in December -- I've never really been a proponent of that with programs that I've been a part of. We may be a little behind, but it is what it is and we need to move on from here. Looking toward the championship phase, this weekend is critical and then we'll come back for our home meet. For people that need another meet or a tune-up, we'll get some things accomplished here at home, and then we'll head into the Big Ten Championships and see what we can do."
On increasing expectations as the championship season approaches quickly ... "There is no question. These next two weekends are ones where they really need to start stepping their game up, especially with the competitions that we're taking them to, this weekend in particular -- this is really the big weekend. Next weekend, only people that we really feel need another competition with compete. And then obviously show time is the Big Ten meet."WOLVERINE BITES
Michigan has competed at the SPIRE Institute in each of the three years it has hosted the SPIRE NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Team Invitational. The SPIRE Institute was built in Geneva, Ohio, in 2008 to provide a centralized location to host various athletic events on all levels, including the 2013 and 2014 Big Ten Indoor Championships. The GaREAT Sports Complex is the nation's largest track and field center and features an eight-lane 300-meter Beynon track with two full 150-meter straightaways.
Thrower Ethan Dennis, as well as hurdlers Erick Gavin and Herman Washington, will compete in the New Mexico Don Kirby Invitational. The trio will get a preview of New Mexico's Indoor Track at The Albuquerque Convention Center, which will be the site of the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championship. Dennis, a two-time national meet qualifier in the weight throw (2012, '13), is in the hunt for his third straight appearance. Seniors Gavin and Washington are looking to slash their times in the 60-meter hurdles in order to punch their first ticket to nationals. The top 16 athletes in each event will qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Last weekend at the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational, Ethan Dennis finished second in the weight throw with a toss of 20.22 meters (66-4.25). Gavin and Washington each advanced to the 60-meter hurdle semifinals, and Washington also qualified for the six-man final, where he finished fourth in 8.03.
Distance runners Mark Beams, Mason Ferlic, Morsi Rayyan and Tony Smoragiewicz will compete in the 5,000-meter run at the Husky Classic, which is known for extremely fast heats and producing NCAA Championship qualifiers. The four opened the indoor season last weekend at the Meyo Invitational. Rayyan competed in the prestigious Meyo Mile, where he finished eighth (4:04.59). Ferlic (8:07.08) and Beams (8:12.65) each ran in the Ryan Shay Invitational 3K, finishing fourth and eighth, respectively, while Smoragiewicz competed in his first collegiate 5,000-meter run, placing sixth in 14:26.22.
At last year's Husky Classic, former Wolverines Dan Lowry and Bobby Aprill clocked the top two 5,000-meter times in school history at 13:42.48 and 13:44.34, respectively, which earned them each spots in the NCAA Indoor Championships.
With two competitions down and two to go before the championship season, U-M has five student-athletes ranked in the Big Ten's top 10 in their respective events.
Morsi Rayyan -- 9th -- mile (4:04.59)
Mason Ferlic -- 8th -- 3,000m (8:07.08)
Tony Smoragiewicz -- 5,000m (14:26.22)
Ethan Dennis -- 8th -- weight throw (20.32m, 66-8)
Derek Sievers -- 9th -- shot put (17.96m, 58-11.25)
In addition to Michigan splitting its squad three ways this weekend, four Wolverine runners will also compete in the USA Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 10:45 a.m. MST. Freshmen Austin Benoit, Will Burke, Billy Bund and Cody Snavely will each run in the junior men's 8K race at Flatirons Golf Course outside Boulder, Colo. [ Full Release ]
THE CLAYTON ERA
Jerry Clayton is in his first year as Michigan's head coach, working primarily with U-M's field event athletes. Prior to moving to Ann Arbor, Clayton spent 15 seasons as an assistant head coach at Auburn. He has strong Big Ten ties, as he competed for Illinois and was two-time NCAA qualifier in the shot put, and returned to Illinois as an assistant coach from 1980-89. Clayton has produced several high-level national and international athletes, including 16 NCAA individual champions, 85 NCAA All-Americans, 39 international team competitors, 24 qualifiers for the U.S. Olympic Trials and 33 participants in Olympic Games and World Championship competition.
Assistant coach Steven Rajewsky is in his first year as a member of U-M's coaching staff, working primarily with U-M's sprinters and hurdles. Prior to coming to Michigan, Rajewsky spent six years as an assistant coach at Kent State.
Assistant coach Alex Gibby is in his fourth season as U-M's distance coach. In his first three seasons, he guided nine student-athletes to the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds, two to the NCAA Indoor Championships and three to NCAA Outdoor Championship appearances. As the Wolverines' cross country head coach, he led his 2013 squad to the NCAA Great Lakes Region title and a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Championships.
THE 2014 WOLVERINES
Team Captains: Senior Herman Washington, as well as senior/juniors Mark Beams and Cody Riffle were named tri-captains for the 2014 season. Each captain was chosen by the team and coaches to represent the different event areas-- Beams (distance), Riffle (field) and Washington (sprints).
Returning All-Americans: The Wolverines return four student-athletes who earned All-America honors in 2013. Senior/junior Cody Riffle (Toledo, Ohio/St. John's Jesuit) placed 12th at the NCAA Indoor Championships and ninth at the outdoor national championships, earning All-America second team honors at both events. Fifth-year senior Ethan Dennis (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville) finished ninth in the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Championships and 20th in the hammer throw at the national outdoor event, garnering All-America second team and honorable mention accolades, respectively. In his first year competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, junior/sophomore Mason Ferlic (St. Paul, Minn./Mounds Park Academy) ran to a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to earn All-America second team recognition. Senior Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville) finished fourth in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, becoming U-M's only First Team All-American of the year.
In the Record Book: Ethan Dennis owns Michigan's indoor weight throw (21.20m, 69-6 3/4) and outdoor hammer throw (62.75m, 213-2) records, while Cody Riffle has set new school records in the indoor (19.25m, 63-2) and outdoor (18.80m, 61-8.25) shot put. Both indoor records were set at the 2013 dual meet against Michigan State.
Qualifying Standards for NCAA Championships: There are no qualifying standards for the championships season. There will be a track indexing standard to delineate the different indexing among flat, undersized, banked and oversized. Qualification to the championships is based on descending-order list for the season. For each individual event contested, the top 16 declared student-athletes will be accepted into the competition. For each relay event contested, the top 12 declared relay teams will be accepted into the competition. Due to new NCAA legislation, last-chance meets will no longer be held the week prior to the national indoor meet. [ USTFCCCA Selection Criteria ]
For the second straight year, the Big Ten Indoor Championships will be held at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The NCAA Indoor Championships will be hosted by the University of New Mexico.
A LOOK AHEAD
Saturday, Feb. 22 -- host Silverston Invitational (U-M Indoor Track Building), 10:30 a.m.
Fri-Sat., Feb. 28-March 1 -- at Big Ten Indoor Championships (Geneva, Ohio), 10 a.m./10 a.m.
Contact: Whitney Dixon (firstname.lastname@example.org)