Weekly #6: U-M to Start Championship Season at Big Ten Indoors
Mason Ferlic

Feb. 26, 2014

• Wolverine Athlete Spotlight: Ethan Dennis

Fri-Sat., Feb. 28-March 1
-- at Big Ten Championships (Geneva, Ohio), 10 a.m.

Meet Information: Championship Central/Tickets | Schedule of Events PDF | Live Results
Social Media: Facebook | Twitter

Also follow along with the action on Twitter by using #B1GTF and @BigTenChamps.

The University of Michigan men's track and field team will begin the championship season with the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 28-March 1) at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The meet will begin at 10 a.m. each day. This weekend's event will mark the second straight year the indoor conference championship is hosted at a neutral site instead of on a Big Ten campus.

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.

• The Big Ten Network will be on site at the conference championships to catch the action and get exclusive interviews with student-athletes and coaches. The championships will air on the Big Ten Network on Saturday, March 8, at 10:30 a.m.

• Four Big Ten schools are currently ranked in the USTFCCCA Division I top 25 -- No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 7 Penn State, No. 21 Nebraska and No. 25 Ohio State.

• Head coach Jerry Clayton will make a return to the Big Ten Indoor Championships for the first time since 1989, when he was an assistant coach at Illinois (1980-89). Clayton also competed for the Fighting Illini as a thrower (1977-80); he was a two-time NCAA qualifier in the shot put.

Wolverines in the Big Ten Quick Hits
• Michigan has won 26 Big Ten indoor team titles with its last coming in 1994.
• One hundred and fourteen Michigan athletes have won 199 individual Big Ten indoor titles.
• Carl Johnson (1918-20) leads all Wolverines with eight Big Ten titles.
• The last time Michigan won a Big Ten indoor title was in 1994. Since then, U-M's highest finish came in 2009, when it finished second.
• Michigan's last individual Big Ten champion was Robert Peddlar in the long jump in 2010.
• Michigan finished ninth in the 11-team conference at the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships with 39 points. Wisconsin's 90 points took top prize behind Illinois (87.5) and Penn State (87).

• Four Wolverines who scored points at the 2013 conference meet will return for U-M this season: Herman Washington -- 60m hurdles (8th; 7.99), Bradley James -- high jump (4th; 2.14m, 7-0.25), Ethan Dennis -- weight throw (6th; 20.73m, 68-0) and Cody Riffle -- shot put (4th; 18.40m, 60-4.50)

• Heading into the conference championships, U-M has five student-athletes ranked in the Big Ten's top eight in their respective events (the top eight finishers score at championship meets).

Morsi Rayyan -- 3rd -- 5,000m (13:57.07)
Mason Ferlic -- 6th -- 5,000m (14:05.35)
Mark Beams -- 7th -- 5,000m (14:07.10)
Stephen Sykes -- 7th -- high jump (2.10m, 6-10.75)
Ethan Dennis -- 8th -- weight throw (20.32m, 66-8)

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.

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), who is redshirting the 2014 season, 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 ]

• Following a week break after the Big Ten Indoor Championships, the NCAA Indoor Championships will be hosted by the University of New Mexico (March 14-15).

Fri-Sat., March 14-15 -- at NCAA Indoor Championships (Albuquerque, N.M.), 10 a.m./11 a.m. MST
Fri-Sat., March 28-29 -- at Raleigh Relays - Outdoor Opener (Raleigh, N.C.), 8:45 a.m./9:30 a.m.

Contact: Whitney Dixon (whitdix@umich.edu)