March 7, 2012
Michigan Head Coach Fred LaPlante
On the athletes who qualified for the NCAA Championships ... "We're really excited for Ethan Dennis and the work that Mo Saatara did with him, as well as our 4x4. The disappointing thing for us is thinking about Craig Forys, who really is, in my mind, our top athlete and it was just the luck of the draw that he didn't make it. He had a great Big Ten meet and he beat some of the guys who will be in the national championship, just time-wise it didn't work out for him. It's disappointing for him that he didn't get it. Also, Matt Campbell as a senior -- he had an injury at the Big Ten meet. He's been the glue to our 4x400-meter relay team and all the guys are disappointed, myself included, that he's not able to make the trip. We certainly think a lot about those guys and what they've put out there. All the guys that are going, I think they all feel very fortunate to go and realize that it's such a fine line and there's some great athletes that aren't there, including some of their own teammates."
On the challenges the relay team has overcome to make it to nationals ... "It's really great, they're certainly battle tested. We've gone through a number of different lineups, injuries; we were kind of stagnant for part of the year, but they're sort of on a roll right now and we're going into this with a pretty good frame of mind."
On the team's confidence level going into the NCAA Championships ... "I think it's really important that their confidence level is strong, which it is. Our last three meets against really tough competition, they held their own. They pretty much have seen the best. I don't think they're going to be intimidated. They feel they can do better than what they've done and that's a neat position to be in going into a national championship meet."
Michigan Assistant Coach Mohamad Saatara
On Ethan Dennis qualifying for the NCAA Championships ... "Anytime someone makes it to the NCAA Championships, that's pretty much the pinnacle of collegiate sports. That's a great honor and I'm very happy for Ethan. I think he really dedicated himself to the sport. I think for anyone that wants to get to a very high level, that's the first step. For someone who was a walk-on, to make that commitment it pretty big. It's been really great to see his commitment to the sport and to learning the weight throw. He's working and doing it the right way -- he's got good technique and he's doing things right. I'm very proud of that."
On what this means for Ethan and the track program ... "I think it's a boost of confidence that he is someone that can compete at the national level. Looking at the big picture, our conference is very strong, so we need to have guys that have confidence to compete at an elite level. In terms of our field events and our track team, obviously it's great to get on a national scene. We feel like we belong on the national scene. Michigan is one of the premier programs and we feel very proud that we're getting our program to that level. Ethan is very young, he's only a sophomore, so that's great to see from him as a young guy. For our program it's great because it exposes our program to the country so people know what's going on here. Being on a big stage, expectations are big for Michigan, so when you put all of that together, we're very happy."
U-M Junior/Sophomore Ethan Dennis
On finding out he earned a spot at the NCAA Championships ... "It was really exciting. It's definitely an awesome opportunity to represent a lot of things there -- represent Michigan, represent what I've done. All the hard work I've done is almost close to paying off. I'll be happy when the good results come in from this weekend."
On his mentality going into the NCAA Championships ... "Being the last seed in, it's kind of my favorite position to be in because no one really expects out of you. That's where I see myself excelling, so that definitely a good spot for me to be -- just competing."