Weekly #16: U-M to Start Postseason at Big Ten Outdoors

May 9, 2012

• Interviews: Bradley James | Herman Washington | Ethan Dennis

Fri-Sun., May 11-13
-- at Big Ten Championships (Madison, Wis.), Noon/9:30 a.m./11 a.m. CDT [ Championship Central | Ticket Information | Live Results ]

The University of Michigan men's track and field team will begin its postseason run at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships from Friday-Sunday (May 11-13) at the University of Wisconsin's McClimon Complex. Competition will begin on Friday at noon and resume again on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and on Sunday at 11 a.m. CDT.


Athletes in Action this Weekend -- Bobby Aprill, Ali Arastu, Mark Beams, Brendon Blacklaws, Brad Bolton, Erik Braun, Matthew Campbell, Justin Clarke, Ethan Dennis, Austin DeWildt, Scott Dvorak, Craig Forys, Justin Gaumer, Erick Gavin, Jack Greenlee, Nick Neuman, Dallas North, Zach Ornelas, Michael Parker Jr., Robert Peddlar, Morsi Rayyan, Kurt Reichenbach, Troy Sneller, Joe Strizich, Aaron Taylor, Taylor Voice, Herman Washington, James Yau, Philip Washington.

Setting the Scene -- Wisconsin's McClimon Complex features a 400-meter, eight-lane track, which is made of a polyurethane "Martin 2000" surface. The track surrounds a spacious field events area, which doubles as a soccer field. The field features a steeplechase water jump, six jump pits, three discus circles, four shot put throwing circles, two pits each for the high jump and pole vault, and two javelin throwing runways.

There are currently five teams from the Big Ten Conference ranked in the USTFCCCA Division I top 25 poll, including No. 8 Indiana, No. 15 Wisconsin, No. 17 Nebraska, No. 21 Iowa and No. 25 Minnesota.

Michigan in the Big Ten -- The Wolverines finished in ninth place at the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, tallying 52.5 points. Sophomore Bradley James (East Lansing, Mich./Haslett) was Michigan's highest finisher a year ago as a freshman, taking second in the high jump. The Wolverines also had two other freshmen score points, including Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville), who finished fourth in the 400-meter hurdles and Herman Washington (Blacklick, Ohio/Gahanna Lincoln), who took seventh in the 110-meter hurdles. Arastu was also a member of the 4x400-meter relay team that placed third. Senior/junior Matthew Campbell (Rochester, Mich./Rochester) was also on that relay squad and will return to run for the Wolverines at this year's conference meet.

Michigan has won 31 Big Ten titles in program history with the last coming in 2008. The Maize and Blue won the conference crown with 129 points that year. Since Michigan began competing in the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in 1901, the Wolverines have won 312 individual event and relay titles.

With the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten Conference, the championship meet will now include 11 teams as Northwestern does not have a track and field program.

Championships on BTN -- The Big Ten Outdoor Championships will be aired on the Big Ten Network on May 20 starting at noon.

Wolverines of the Week -- Each week throughout the season, the track and field coaching staff will select members of the team as Wolverines of the Week. "The team recognition is based on personal accomplishments that enhance team objectives and examples of competitive focus," said head coach Fred LaPlante.

This week's Wolverines of the Week are sophomore Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville), freshman Scott Dvorak (Westmont, Ill./Westmont), sophomore/freshman Justin Gaumer (Holly, Mich./Holly), senior Nick Neuman (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), fifth-year senior Taylor Voice (Boyne City, Mich./Boyne City), sophomore Herman Washington (Blacklick, Ohio/Gahanna Lincoln), freshman Philip Washington (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield) and sophomore/freshman James Yau (Troy, Mich./Troy).

Each of the selected athletes recorded new personal-best marks at the Len Paddock Invitational and will represent the Maize and Blue at the Big Ten Championships.

Mixing up the Relay -- Nine different athletes have competed on the 4x400-meter relay team in five different meets during the outdoor season. At the Mt. SAC Relays on April 20, the Wolverines ran a season-best time of 3:08.88 to finish second in the event behind Minnesota; the mark currently ranks fifth in the Big Ten. The relay was made up of freshman Philip Washington (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield), sophomore Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville), senior/junior Matthew Campbell (Rochester, Mich./Rochester) and junior/sophomore Troy Sneller (Hamilton, Mich./Hamilton).

During the 2012 indoor season, the relay team of senior Nick Neuman (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), sophomore/freshman Michael Parker Jr. (Jackson, Mich./Michigan Center), junior Aaron Taylor (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester Adams) and Arastu ran a season-best time of 3:07.75 to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Indoor Championships. All four members of the squad earned All-America second team honors.

Last Time on the Track: Len Paddock Invitational -- Michigan won five total events in front of a home crowd at the Len Paddock Invitational May 3-4. Junior/sophomore Ethan Dennis (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville) kicked off Michigan's only home meet of the outdoor season winning the hammer throw with a mark of 62.18 meters (204-0). In his first time running the 400-meter dash this season, sophomore Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville) won the event, recording the sixth-fastest time in the Big Ten at 47.00. In the 110-meter hurdles, sophomores Herman Washington (Blacklick, Ohio/Gahanna Lincoln) clocked a personal-best time of 14.12 to finish in first place. Senior Nick Neuman (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) also won the 200-meter dash in a personal-best time of 21.53.
[ MGoBlue Recaps: Day One | Day Two :: Michigan Daily ]

Among The Big Ten's Best
Several Michigan track and field athletes rank among the top 10 in the Big Ten heading into the conference meet.

Name Event Time/Mark Rank
Justin Clarke (So.) 100m Dash 10.59 9
Ali Arastu (So.) 400m Dash 47.00 6
Craig Forys (R-Sr.) 5,000m Run 13:52.14 6
Morsi Rayyan (So.) 5,000m Run 13:57.34 8
Morsi Rayyan (So.) 10,000m 29:43.44 6
Zach Ornelas (Jr.) 10,000m 29:46.30 7
Mark Beams (R-Fr.) 10,000m 30:04.80 10
Herman Washington (So.) 110m Hurdles 14.12 9
Ali Arastu (So.) 400m Hurdles 50.54 2
Craig Forys (R-Sr.) 3,000m Steeple 8:44.59 5
Nick Neuman, Matthew Campbell,
Aaron Taylor, Robert Peddlar
4x100m Relay 41.22 9
Philip Washington, Ali Arastu, Matthew Campbell, Eric Oliver 4x400m Relay 3:08.88 5
Jack Greenlee (Jr.) Pole Vault 17-1 ft. 4
Ethan Dennis (R-So.) Hammer Throw 205-10.50 ft. 4
Brad Bolton (Fr.) Hammer Throw 197-8 ft. 7
Joe Strizich (Sr.) Javelin 188-0 ft. 8

Best of the Best -- Three Michigan athletes rank among the top 25 in the nation in their respective events. Fifth-year senior Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) ranks 10th in the NCAA in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with his time of 8:44.59, which he ran at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 19. After running a personal-best time of 50.54 in the 400-meter hurdles at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 20, sophomore Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville) owns the 11th-best time in the country in the 400-meter hurdles. In the hammer throw, junior/sophomore Ethan Dennis's (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville) school-record setting throw of 62.75 meters (205-10.50) ranks 25th in the NCAA.

Rewriting the Record Book -- Junior/sophomore Ethan Dennis (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville) set a new school record in the hammer throw at the Georgia Spec Towns Invitational on April 13. His lifetime-best throw of 62.75 meters (205-10.75) broke the previous record of 62.50 meters (204-5) set by Sean Pruitt in 2009. Dennis has already surpassed his season-best throw from 2011 by nearly 10 feet (59.75 meters, 196-0), which he registered at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

Dennis has won the hammer throw at three meets this outdoor season, including the Colonial Relays, Mt. SAC Relays and the Len Paddock Invitational.

Personal Improvement -- Eight Wolverines recorded new personal-best marks at the Len Paddock Invitational last weekend. After six meets this outdoor season, 24 Wolverines have set new PRs in at least one event, with seven improving in at least two events. During the 2012 indoor season, 36 student-athletes recorded new PRs.

Relays Galore -- At the William & Mary Colonial Relays, held April 6-7, Michigan competed in six different relay events. The Wolverines took first in the sprint medley relay and finished runner up in the other five relays, including the 4x100-, 4x200-, 4x1500-, 4x400-meter and distance medley relays. The 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays are the only two events contested at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Eleven different athletes got the opportunity to compete on at least one relay team at the meet. Michigan registered 52 of its 167 total team points during the relay events.

At the Penn Relays April 26-28, Michigan competed in three different relay events -- the distance medley, the 4x400-meter and 4x800-meter relays. The DMR finished runner up in the college division, while the 4x400-meter relay took third in the college division finals.

In the Rankings -- Michigan dropped one spot to No. 5 in the sixth Great Lakes Region poll released Tuesday (May 8) by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). U-M is one of six Big Ten schools in the Great Lakes Region, including No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 2 Indiana, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 7 Michigan State and No. 14 Purdue.

Fresh Faces -- Michigan added 22 new student-athletes to the roster this season. Of those 22, seven competed for the Wolverines during the indoor track and field season. Philip Washington (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield) was the only freshman on the 4x400-meter relay team at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, which finished fourth, and was an alternate on the relay at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

At the Colonial Relays (April 6), sophomore/freshman Mark Beams (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg) ran the 5,000-meter run in his outdoor collegiate debut. Three Wolverine freshmen made their collegiate outdoor debuts at the USC Trojan Invitational (March 23-24) -- Brad Bolton (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro), Scott Dvorak (Westmont, Ill./Westmont) and Philip Washington (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield). Redshirt freshmen Justin Gaumer (Holly, Mich./Holly) and James Yau (Troy, Mich./Troy) also competed for U-M in their first collegiate outdoor meet at USC.

Peddlar Returns for Final Season -- Fifth-year senior Robert Peddlar (Kingston, Jamaica/Wolmer's Boys), who exhausted his indoor track and field eligibility in 2011 and could not compete indoor in 2012, returned to the field for his final outdoor season at the USC Trojan Invitational on March 31. He finished second in the long jump in his outdoor season debut. Peddlar is the only current Wolverine to have won an individual Big Ten title as he won the Big Ten indoor long jump in 2010.

DeWildt Family Traditions -- Junior pole vaulter Austin DeWildt (Wyoming, Mich./Catholic Central) was named the team's Most Improved Athlete in 2011. He tied for third at the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and went on to finish 13th at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds. Austin's older brother, Charles DeWildt, was the last Michigan pole vaulter to win a Big Ten outdoor pole vault title in 2000. Charles ranks second on U-M's all-time outdoor performers list with a vault of 17-4.75, which he cleared in 2000. Their father, Charles Sr., was a pole vaulter at Western Michigan.

2011 Outdoor Rewind -- Michigan finished ninth at the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and was represented by Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) at the NCAA Championships. Forys qualified for the finals in the 3,000-meter steeplechase where he finished ninth to earn All-America second team honors.

2012 NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING -- For the third consecutive season, the East and West Preliminary Championship competition will be utilized to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Using a descending order list, the top 48 athletes in each event will participate in two rounds (first round and quarterfinals) during the Preliminary Round. Twelve competitors from each individual event and 12 teams from each relay event will advance from each Preliminary Championship competition to the NCAA Championships. There are no qualifying marks used during the outdoor season. This year's NCAA East Preliminary Round will be held at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Big Ten Championships will provide the last opportunity for the Wolverines to improve their marks before the East Preliminary Round. The regional fields will be announced on May 17.

Michigan men's track and field is on Facebook. Connect with the program, alumni and fans by clicking the "Like" button at facebook.com/michiganmenstrack. Also, be sure to follow the team on Twitter (@umichtrack) for up-to-the-minute news and information throughout the season and beyond.

Throughout the championships, the hastag #B1GTF will be used on Twitter to help fans follow the action.

Thu-Sat., May 24-26 -- at NCAA East Preliminary Round (Jacksonville, Fla.), 11 a.m.

Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423