Road to NCAAs: Return to Ann Arbor, Reflection on Season

June 14, 2010

Frank Shotwell Video Report | Carl Buchanon Video Report | Lex Williams Video Report

Entry 9

Our journey to the NCAA Track & Field Championships has ended and my season is officially over. On Saturday, we watched the final day of competition surrounded by a record audience of about 12,000 fans. Oregon competed very well in the events that they were in due to the home crowd advantage. I can only imagine what it would be like for me to compete in front of a sizeable home crowd at Ferry Field. I hope that one day down the road, a Michigan track and field team will have the opportunity to host an outdoor championship meet.

This summer and next fall I will be preparing for my final season as a Michigan athlete. Time has flown by so fast and I want to make sure that I end my collegiate career with a big finish at next year's NCAA outdoor championship. Although our team had a down year, I believe that the entire team will reflect upon this season and see what we need to do differently as we mentally prepare ourselves to compete in championship meets. We've got a lot of freshmen that will be joining our team next year, and it will be crucial that they challenge themselves to be the best student-athletes they can be in their first year. Anything is possible for these young athletes, and they will definitely have an opportunity to be successful here at the University of Michigan

Thanks again for all the support I received heading into this meet. Keep me in your thoughts as I head to Chicago this week as a chaperone for Slauson Middle School's eighth grade class trip to Chicago. This is my second year in a row going on the trip and I'm really looking forward to spending time with the kids. It will be a special treat to re-live my middle school days again as I watch the students have a wonderful time together.

On a sadder note, I woke up Sunday morning to the news that our family dog of 14 years, Bud, had peacefully passed away and gone to dog heaven. He was a great dog for our family and despite the headaches he often caused us by stealing food from our plates when we weren't looking, he brought great joy to our days. I think it's only right for my final joke of the day to be a dog joke in memory of Bud.

Q: Why don't dogs make good dancers?
A: Because they have two left feet!

Entry 8

Hello Michiganders. I concluded my final day of competition and ended up in 14th place overall. Today was a lot of fun and I had some decent performances all around. It was great to share the moment with my family and friends. I started the day with a solid hurdle race and took second in my heat. The weather conditions were pretty calm, but it was a little colder than expected. I waited for the second flight of the discus and took a quick nap underneath the grandstand. The discus didn't go exactly as we had planned, but I stayed in the hunt with my mark compared to the other guys. The winds and weather were perfect for the pole vault competition. We had two flights vaulting right next to each other along the backstretch and there was a good crowd supporting us. I struggled to find a rhythm in my approach and wasn't able to negotiate the higher bars like I had planned. The javelin was the biggest highlight of my competition. On my third attempt I threw a lifetime best and got fired up in front of 11,000 people.

The crowd was unbelievable for both days of competition. During the 1,500-meter run, the entire stadium was slow clapping and standing up as we came down the homestretch for the final laps. I closed well, but I wasn't in a position to run with the other guys who were ahead of me. It was a great competition and I learned a lot about myself over these past two days. I'm looking forward to a little offseason rest and spending some time in Ann Arbor. I've been applying at jobs in the area to take care of the bills for the summer, so if anyone out there is looking for a guy who can do 10 different work-related tasks, over two days, and do them well, I'm your guy.

I just want to thank my parents and sister for coming out to support me this weekend. My little brothers who couldn't make it were texting me the whole time and giving me words of encouragement. Thanks Peter and Carl. Also, a big thanks to Coach Kaiser for sticking with me through this year and guiding me along the way. Coach K is a great leader for our team and he's a great person to have as a friend. Four years ago, he told me that the decathlon was a journey, and I always remind myself that success in this event doesn't happen overnight, but with long-term goals and surrounding yourself with outstanding individuals, one can achieve anything they put their mind to.

Go Blue!!!

Joke of the Day:
Q: What do you call a pig that does karate?
A: A pork chop!

Entry 7

Hello Michigan family and friends. Just want to give you all a quick post before I head to bed for the night. The day went okay for me in the decathlon. It was rainy and chilly all day, but despite the adverse weather conditions I did well relative to a lot of the other guys. That's one of the benefits of going to a school up north, as it prepares you for all conditions that one has to compete in.

The stadium and fan atmosphere was a pretty cool spectacle. Oregon bussed in a bunch of middle school kids for the long jump, and we probably had close to 1,000 people slow clapping for us during the jumps. I fouled a monster third attempt and was a little disappointed with it, but sometimes that's just how it goes. Shot put was little off for me today, but I know with some offseason work I can get that event going. High jump has become one of my favorite events this outdoor season. The bar events are always a little scary, but when you get on a roll they are so much fun to compete in. I jumped 6'4" and had a nice double fist pump celebration that got me fired up. We had an hour long break in between the high jump and the 400 so I took a little nap on an indoor pole vault pit with some of the other decathletes. The 400 went well for me relative to some of my other performances this season. I took the race out hard and closed well for a 50.53.

I'm still in a position to score well and finish day two strong. The great thing about the decathlon is that the athlete has 10 opportunities to score points in different events. I'm going to try my hardest to finish this thing off the way I should.

I had another visit from a West Coast teammate at the meet. Simon Wenet took the train down from Seattle and I was really excited to see him there. It's great to see how much support I have from my own teammates between the visits, phone calls and texts I've received. Michigan track and field is a strong family and they give tremendous support to one another. I'm proud to be part of a team like this; I don't think many other athletes can say the same thing about their own team.

Go Blue.

Joke of the Day:
Q: Why did the whale cross the road?
A: To get to the other tide!

Entry 6

Hello Michigan! Day one of the decathlon gets going today and I'm looking forward to getting after it with some of nation's best. I got some inspiration from watching Carl run a solid race out of lane eight tonight in the 400-meter hurdles. Not the easiest of lanes to run in, but he was focused on his race and made a good run out of it in some average weather conditions. Only .03 seconds off his lifetime best, so he should definitely be proud of his effort. Lex runs the 10k today, too, so we are looking to have a big day together. The decathlon starts at 1 p.m. (EDT) and the 10k starts at 10:25 p.m. (EDT). You can follow live results at the NCAA Championship website, and I believe you'll be able to watch Lex's race live streaming on the Internet. [ Check it out here ]

I had a fun day with my family as they flew in to watch the meet. My mom, dad, and little sister Beth, are here to watch us Michigan Men and I'm so excited to have them here. My family, Lex, and myself took an hour drive west to visit the Pacific Ocean. We went to a town called Florence and had a nice seafood lunch in the harbor. After lunch, we drove to the sand dunes along the coast and checked out the ocean. This definitely was not the Southern California Pacific Ocean that I've seen before, as it was cold, rainy, and the water was choppy. It was still a beautiful view and even more beautiful when Lex and my sister held hands while skipping through the water. My sister gave Lex a little taste of racing defeat when she raced him up the last 10 meters of the sand dune. She has a great kick and I wish I had that for the end of my 1,500-meter run at the Big Ten meet.

Once we got back to town, Coach K and I headed off to the meet to watch Carl and the other races go off. After the meet, we met up with my family at P.F Changs for dinner. I was a little disappointed when our waitress Amy had to get out of work early to eat dinner with her parents, who also came to the restaurant. Amy, if you happen to read this, I will definitely be coming back to the restaurant to see you again. Great food and great times with my family and coach, these are some of the most memorable parts of our trips.

I'd like to thank a special visitor and fan that came up to watch the meet. My teammate and housemate Joe Strizich, hitchhiked from San Francisco to watch us run this week. It was a thirteen-hour journey for him and he made it one piece. Not only will Joe be cheering me on, but he will also be able to coach and provide some technical adjustments that will help me out during my decathlon. He's a great training partner and friend so I'm glad he could make it. Also, I'd like to thank all of my other teammates who helped me over the course of this season. Without you guys I wouldn't be here.

I'll fill you all in on today's competition in tomorrow's blog. I'm ready to compete and excited for this opportunity. Thanks for your support. Go Blue!

Today's joke of the day is brought to you from a close friend and coach of mine from our hometown of Medina Twp.

Q: What animal should you never play cards with?
A: A Cheetah!!!!

Entry 5

What's up, Michigan fans? Carl Buchanon here, a.k.a. CB2. I will be your guest entertainer today. This is my first blog ever and I have no idea what I am doing. I mean everyone blogs now-a-days, right?

I woke up around 8 a.m. and headed to Denny's with Frank Shotwell and Lex Williams. Thankfully, they had All-You-Can-Eat pancakes for just $4! Oregon does not have any sales tax, which is a definite plus. Loads of pancakes and a full stomach later, we headed back to the hotel to chill before going over to Autzen Stadium (Oregon's football stadium -- ours is way better) to receive our NCAA gift and registration material. I was already looking forward to my daily nap, but we all decided to go to the track to work out. The weather was nice; not too hot but just right. There were a lot of people at the track and at first it was pretty intimidating, but it definitely FIRED ME UP to know that I was among the greatest and would be representing the block 'M' all the way on the West Coast. Frank and I warmed up on the practice track and some bird tried to eat my head off. I almost unleashed the Jackie Chan on it, but how would that look? The bird won today, but tomorrow marks a new day.

The workout was great. I felt awesome. Coach LaPlante and I walked around the track and just meditated on the race to come. I jumped in the ice tub and then Coach, Robyn (the athletic trainer) and myself went to a historical restaurant, Track Town Pizza, to grab a bite to eat. As we were eating, I glanced up to notice that there was a picture of Autzen Stadium and right below it was the words "Oregon 31, Michigan 27, September 20, 2003." We had definitely sat in the wrong booth.

For dinner, the whole gang decided to go to a place right down the street from the hotel: Elmers. The food was pretty good and everyone's bellies were full. There happens to be this dollar movie theater down the street, so the guys and I decided to try it out. Why not? We went to go see Hot Tub Time Machine. I will just say that it was the best $1.75 that I have spent in a while. I now want a hot tub time machine.

All in all, today was a great, relaxing day. I run tomorrow and I am just ready to go out there and compete! Ironically enough, I am in the same heat as a guy who beat me every year at the state meet back in my high school days. Long story short, I am looking for some revenge. Go hard or go home!

I would be remiss if I didn't leave you guys with a joke from our teammate, Grant Till:

Q: Why did the chef get fired from the chophouse?
A: Because he made a mis-STEAK!

Good thing Grant is going into the Laundromat business and not comedy! Thanks though, buddy!

Wherever you go, GO BLUE!
-CB2 over and out!

Buchanon Fights Back In Multiple Ways

Entry 4

Hello from Eugene. This is guest blogger Lex Williams, with comedic relief assistance from everyone's favorite decathlete -- Frank Shotwell.

Here's a little rundown on our day of travel, from State Street all the way to the Holiday Inn in Eugene-Springfield, Ore. Our day began with an alarm clock at 5:30 a.m., shortly followed by a snooze button and a friendly wake-up call from Frank to myself. I threw together the rest of my things and buzzed over to the track just in time for our Stretch Limousine to the airport (aka the finest U-M Blue Bus available at 6 a.m.). At the airport, we were quick to beat Michigan State to the check-in counter. You could say we had a great jump out of the blocks. We then had a short misstep in our 2,349-mile journey, as we found out the NCAA paid for our return tickets only, and not our tickets for departure.

After a couple quick phone calls from Freddy "cool-breeze" LaPlante, we were able to make it through security with 30 minutes to spare but ended up in the back of the pack as we were last to board the plane. After a quick layover in Chicago and a Pink Star energy boost from Jamba Juice's secret menu, we got on our second flight of the day to Portland. Just four hours, several naps, and a Boondock Saints viewing later, we entered the "drive phase" of our trip. We got hooked up with a nice Ford SUV rental car, stopped for lunch at Panera (Frank and Carl Buchanon got Noodles and Company), and cruised south to a strong finish at our final destination at the Holiday Inn Eugene-Springfield.

From the hotel, I met up with current OTC member and former Michigan runner and multi-time national champ, Geena Gall, for a nice easy run through Pre's Trail and the Oregon Campus. She even gave me a tour of the weight facilities and academic center at Oregon. They have a moat built around their Academic Center for all the Ducks to waddle out of after a fresh bath before they get some studying in. Frank, Carl, Ronny, and Coach K drove over to Hayward Field for a short shake-out and to check out the facilities.

The weather was great today, perfect for our scheduled "Duck Hunting" session later in the week!

Frank, Carl, and Myself grabbed a bite for dinner at a small brew-pub outside of our hotel and were served by a world-class female body builder. Frank would get a couple extra meters out of the shot with those triceps. We are already impressed by the locals' knowledge of the track meet and of track in general. They were giving away tickets on the radio and the town was covered with posters promoting the event.

In generic Frank Shotwell fashion, I too will sign off with a joke:

Q: How do you make a hot dog stand?
A: Steal it's chair!


Williams Hopes to Go the Distance in Final Race

Entry 3

Hello friends and fans, welcome back to my NCAA Championships blog. The weekend was great and I've got a lot of things to fill you in on from my adventures.

On Friday, Coach Kaiser made it safely back into town from the East Coast and we had a solid practice together. We did some high jump approaches, along with spring-board jumping at bars close to seven feet. This special board allows me to work on my technique over the bar by giving me some extra bounce off the ground with the help of the springs. It's great when people see me jumping over big bars when they don't know the board is there. I can casually act like I'm a seven-footer in practice despite the fact that I wouldn't be able to clear 5-feet-10 without it. After the jumping we headed over to the softball field for some hurdle hops and bounding. I'd like to thank Jason Demink and the rest of the facilities crew for having some of the softest grass and surfaces I've ever jumped on. Everyone plays an important role in the athletic department, and sometimes it's easy to oversee or forget the little inputs that add up to a team's success. Thanks guys!

At night, I went to Mongolian BBQ for some dinner and desserts. Mongolian is one of the places I went on my recruiting visit to Michigan, so I've got a special place in my heart and stomach for it. Later that night, I hung out with Brendan Blacklaws, who was celebrating his 21st birthday. I've had a great time getting to know the Kiwis, and they've been a great addition to the team. It's great that so many international students come to Michigan for their education. The diversity it adds to our institution makes it one of the strongest in the world.

Saturday morning I had the pleasure of spending another practice with Coach Fred, as Coach Kaiser was out of town again on the recruiting trail. I like training with Coach Fred for quite a few reasons. First, it's good to get a different technical perspective than your usual coach. We made some adjustments on my starts and I ended up having some of the best starts of my life. Nick Neuman and Jerome Singleton helped add some competitive spirit to the practice, allowing us to have some high quality reps. The second reason I like training with Fred is because of his storytelling abilities. Some people in life can tell a story, but Fred has stories about anything and everything, and he is able to deliver his stories better than 99 percent of the storytellers out there. Finally, my favorite reason why I like to train with Fred is that he has started having dreams about me this year. Fred's track-related dreams let me know that he cares about my well being and success not only when he is at the track, but off the track as well.

Sunday was a great day. Coach Kaiser and I took a personal day to do laundry and pack our bags for the trip to Eugene. I tend to put off the packing and laundry until the morning of the trip, but we leave at 6 a.m. so I need to take care of the business before I go to bed. I took a little trip to Detroit with John Kipf, Sean Pruitt, Mike Sears (wrestler), and David Brent from EMU's track team. We went to the Red Bull Air Race World Championships on the Detroit River. Today was the final event and it was amazing to see the planes fly through the obstacle course going at speeds of 200 miles per hour. I think that by surrounding myself with fast planes and people I'll end up becoming faster through assimilation.

Thanks again for reading the blog. My next post will be about our typical track team travel and how we get comfortable in our new surroundings.

Joke of the day:
Q: What kind of movies do pirates watch?
A: Movies that are rated "ARRRRRRRGHHHHH"!


Entry 2

Hello Michigan track and field fans, welcome back to the blog. I've been quite busy since the last post so I'll fill you in on what's been going on. On Wednesday, John Kipf, Sean Pruitt, Lex Williams, and I went to check out a bluegrass band at Circus in Ann Arbor. Great music and free popcorn. What else could be better? The best part of the night was seeing Lex Williams cut loose on the dance floor. I told him to save some dance moves for Eugene so he can break out a jig when he becomes an All American in the 10,000-meter run.

I had an early practice on Thursday with Coach LaPlante as Coach Kaiser had to fly out to New Jersey to work on his tan and do some recruiting. Fred and I had a good hurdle session together. Our primary focus was to fix my arm motion into and over the hurdle. My body is feeling fantastic after having a few days to recover from a speed endurance workout on Monday. It makes technical adjustments a lot easier to do when the body is feeling fresh.

After practice, I went to Concordia University to coach a middle school track meet. This is my second year coaching the hurdles and long jump at Slauson Middle School. The kids call me "Coach Shot", and we've been having a good season so far. We didn't get the win today, but it was a close meet and the athletes should be proud of how they competed. Next week is the City Championship meet, so they are near the end of their season just like me. If Slauson and I get first place next week, I will throw the biggest pizza party bash the city of Ann Arbor has ever seen.

Last night, I went to dinner at Joe's Crab Shack and grabbed a shake at Quickie Burger. It might not be the healthiest or leanest meal for me to eat, but I don't believe in food having a negative impact on my decathlon score. Calories equate to points in the decathlon, so "the more you eat, the better you score."

Thanks for following my blog and I'll be sure to get some more quality material for your reading pleasure.

Joke of the Day:
Q: What do you call a cow with no legs?
A: Ground beef!

Go Blue!

Entry 1

Hello Wolverines! Welcome to my first-ever NCAA Championships blog. For the next eight days, I'll be documenting my life as I prepare for the final collegiate meet of my season.

I will take on the 24-person decathlon field at the meet, which takes place June 9-12 in Eugene, Ore., at the historic Hayward Field. Before I go on, I'd like to challenge all the people who think Hayward Field is the greatest track in the World; U.S. Ferry Field is way more historic than Hayward Field will ever be. On a single day in 1935, Jesse Owens broke three world records, and tied a fourth at the Big Ten Championships meet here in Ann Arbor! It's the single greatest day in the history of track & field, because Michigan came back and won that meet despite all the world records! I don't think Hayward Field has that on its resume.

Training has been going well since Big Tens. It takes awhile for a decathlete's body to recover from the event. With 10 different events, two days of competition, and the ups and downs of emotion, it definitely takes a toll on the mind and body. Yesterday, I had a chance to go home and visit the family and eat some of Mom's home-cooked food. The best way for me to prepare for major competitions is to go home and visit my parents and siblings. I don't get to see them very often, so when I do it is a very relaxing time for me. Also something important to note is that I went fishing last night back home at my buddy Jared's house. I caught a monster largemouth bass near the end of the night. Like I've always said, "When you catch big fish, you catch big jumps," so I'm looking to score some new personal bests in the jumps thanks to this fish I caught.

Thanks for reading my first blog. I'll fill you in tomorrow on how my practice and day goes.

I think that each day I write I will post a new joke to keep this blog funny, so here it goes: Two antennas got married. The wedding stunk, but the reception was great!


Shotwell Prepped and Ready for NCAAs