N O T E S
While U-M notched the fastest distance medley relay time in history, it cannot be considered a world or American record due to the nationalities of its team members. To be considered a world record, all four members of the squad must be from the same country, and for it to be an American record, all four members must be from the United States.
The previous collegiate record (9:28.83) was set by Stanford on March 10, 2000, at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. The Cardinal men still hold the U.S. indoor and the world indoor records.
The foursome also set a new U-M team record in the distance medley relay, eclipsing the previous record (9:29.76), set by Brannen, Seth Waits, Ellerton and Willis at the 2003 NCAA Indoor Championships, by 1.99 seconds.
The Wolverine foursome captured the 39th NCAA title for Michigan and only the second relay title. In 1995 Michigan's Kevin Sullivan, Trinity Townsend, Nick Karfonta and Ian Forsyth won the distance medley relay with a time of 9:34.44.
With the win, junior Nate Brannen became a two-time NCAA champion, adding the title to his 800-meter run victory at last year's NCAA Indoor Championships. With the DMR earning All-America honors with a third-place finish last season, Brannen is now a four-time All-American in track while sophomores Andrew Ellerton and Nick Willis are both two-time All-Americans. Junior DarNell Talbert, competing in his first NCAA Championships, earned his first All-America distinction tonight.
Michigan's NCAA champion DMR squad is the exact lineup that outkicked Arkansas to win the title at last year's Penn Relays (9:32.65). Brannen and Willis swapped positions this year, with Brannen opening the relay and Willis serving as the anchor.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Ron Warhurst
On the distance medley relay ... "I knew there was going to be a jam in our starting position because there were 13 teams competing. (Nate Brannen) was back and forth for a bit at the beginning being pushed and shoved, but when he did break out, I think it was with about 250 meters to go. He wound up splitting a 2:54 off a 1:59, so he was well in control. DarNell (Talbert) did a fantastic job. That was his best relay split ever, and he did it at the right time at the NCAA Championships. The key for the 400 meters is not to go out over your head and die and let everyone catch you at the end. He didn't; he did it perfect. He was right there, the guy got by him a little, but he stayed with him. Andrew (Ellerton) did the same thing. He went out with the guy; let him get by him and closed hard. His split was 1:48.3 and it was a perfect setup for Nick (Willis) to close it out. The object was first to win the race, then if we had a shot to break the record to go for it. Fortunatey, we did both. Nick ran a 3:57 mile, and I think he could have run three seconds faster if the pack would have been faster up front. They all ran very smart, ran very well, and we won the race. We are national champions with a collegiate record."
On the 800-meter run ... "I was a little nervous earlier. It started today with the 800 meters and you're always nervous for that. It is the most nerve-racking thing because you have to get through it to race in the final. (Brannen) got through, finishing second in his heat, and that relieved a lot of the tension. Let's go tomorrow."
Junior Nate Brannen
On the win ... "I won a title on my own last year, and that was great; but to win it as a team is so much more exciting. To win it and share it with three other guys is awesome."
On the opening 1,200-meter leg ... "The plan for me, because I ran earlier, was to sit and get good position, and then with 250 meters to go, take it over and start passing from there. That is exactly what I did coming off the turn. I took first and started pressing to give us a 10-15 meter lead, which set everyone else up pretty good."
On the 800-meter run ... "I was getting hit around a lot in the 800. Almost right off the bat, I was in the back. I kind of worked my way up to mid-pack by halfway through. With 200 meters to go I just wanted to get second to earn the automatic qualifier. I got that, and that's all that really mattered. The hardest thing is making the final. Once you make the final, that's the easy part."
Junior DarNell Talbert
On his 400-meter leg ... "It was great. I felt better here than I have in any other race. I felt like I wasn't even running. I still don't remember what exactly happened. I just remember getting the baton and giving it off. I felt great."
Sophomore Andrew Ellerton
On his 800-meter leg ... "I got out the hardest I have all year -- 51 seconds. That is pretty brisk, but it felt good. I was just trying not to die too bad and keep the (Arkansas) guy close. I closed pretty well and caught up to him in the end. I just didn't want to screw it up; I wanted to keep it close, because I knew Willis would seal the deal for us."
Sophomore Nick Willis
On the improvement over last year's finish ... "It was nice redemption for us and for me especially, because I was sick last year. This year was great. We went in as favorites, and to come through and do your best at the big dance when it matters most is important. So that was really nice, especially for Coach Warhurst."
On receiving the baton second ... "Either way, it didn't really matter; but it was a nice situation, because we got out fast in front of the rest of field. It was good that I had a another kid in front of me to help me around the track, so I could just relax for a while and use my sprint at the end. We were really ready for any scenario though."