U-M Quartet Qualifies for NCAA Indoor Championships

March 1, 2017

NCAA Indoor Championships Qualifiers

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Four Wolverines from the No. 21 University of Michigan men's track and field team were among the field of NCAA Indoor Championships qualifiers announced by the NCAA late Tuesday night (Feb. 28).

The weight throw duo of Grant Cartwright and Joe Ellis will be joined in College Station, Texas, on March 10-11 by two-time heptathlon All-American Steven Bastien and miler Ned Willig.

The 16 highest-ranked athletes who declared their intentions to compete in each individual event earned berths to NCAAs. Relay fields were comprised of the top 12 declared teams.

Not since 2013 has such a large Maize and Blue contingent represented the school at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The quartet of Bobby Aprill, Dan Lowry, Ethan Dennis and Cody Riffle combined for four USTFCCCA second-team All-America honors that year at Arkansas.

This year's squad could be in position to earn the most first-team honors -- or simply All-America honors prior to the introduction of the two teams in 2011 -- since national hurdles champion Jeff Porter led a quartet of top-eight finishers in 2007.

Cartwright and Ellis are riding a historic wave of momentum after combining for a 1-2 finish at the Big Ten Indoor Championships with three school records between them. Cartwright ranks fourth nationally and just 25 centimeters from No. 1 at 23.31m (76-5.75), while Ellis enters seeded eighth at 22.49m (73-9.5).

With Cartwright so close to the national lead after posting the country's farthest throw of conference championships weekend, it could be important to note that U-M has never won an indoor national title in a field event. The last NCAA field event title outdoors came 60 years ago with Dave Owen's shot put title in 1957.

Not only are the two the best weight throw duo in the nation this season -- only Alabama additionally qualified more than one athlete in the event -- they are one of the best in recent NCAA history. Their combined distance of 45.80m (150-3.25) is tied for the third-best among collegiate pairs since 2000.

The two will also look to become the first U-M duo to earn top-eight finishes in the same event at the same championships since John Scherer and Brad Barquist were fifth and eighth, respectively, at 3,000 meters in 1988. No Wolverine has ever finished top-eight in the weight throw.

Bastien, seeded fifth nationally, will be going for his third top-eight finish in the heptathlon in as many years. The last three-time All-American for Michigan in the same event was Nate Brannen over 800 meters in 2003-05, during which time he won two national titles.

After breaking his own school record in the heptathlon earlier this season, Bastien will be looking to bounce back from an injury that knocked him out of a Big Ten heptathlon title defense this past weekend.

Willig, seeded ninth in the mile, makes it to NCAAs on the strength of his 3:58.09 run at the Boston U John Thomas Terrier Classic in late January. He is most recently coming off a seventh-place finish at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.

At ninth in the field, he is on the cusp of earning U-M's first top-eight finish in the event since Justin Switzer was seventh in 2009.

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Communications Contact: Kyle Terwillegar