Wolverine Athlete Spotlight: NCAA Edition

June 11, 2014

Hayward Field

Event Preview

Derek Sievers, Mason Ferlic and Morsi Rayyan discuss their journey to the NCAA Championships at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., and what it means to represent Michigan on the national stage.


Mason Ferlic
St. Paul, Minn.

On returning to the NCAA Championships for the second straight year ... "Coming back gives you more experience. It's a really fun meet because of the crowd and the atmosphere, but as a first-timer last year it might have been a little overwhelming with the level of competition and the atmosphere. This year, coming back, I definitely have more sense of purpose and know what I need to do. I'm more confident and I know how to approach the prelims and the finals -- I'm a lot more level headed."

On what he enjoys about TrackTown USA ... "The best part is the whole town. We went to Cabela's yesterday and we were talking to a store clerk and he knew the steeplechase and our running events and that's unusual. Usually when you tell someone you run the steeplechase they have no idea what you're talking about. Being in this town and in this atmosphere for a week is fun and it's great for the sport."

On having three Wolverines at the NCAA Championships ... "It's awesome. Big props to Morsi (Rayyan) and Derek (Sievers). They've had great seasons and it's great to see them make it to nationals. Having the trio here is fun. None of us are seniors so we all have another year to come back, which is exciting. It's about building the program and hopefully every year we're adding more numbers to this meet. The more veterans that make it to this meet the better because we can help the younger guys. Hopefully it will be a good tradition, coming back here to Eugene."


Morsi Rayyan
Dewitt, Mich.

On his race at regionals that got him to nationals ... " We went into regionals with the intention of qualifying, but the focus was on competing and I think I did that, at least through the first half of the race very well, and then it started moving and I sort of dropped up a little at the mid-point. I think the heat started to get to people and I kept turning it on and kept going and ended up catching a lot of people."

On what it means to qualify for the NCAA Championships ... "It's a huge honor being one of the top 10K runners in the nation and getting to compete against some amazing talent."

On his favorite part of being in TrackTown USA ... "The most memorable part so far is the people and how they embrace our sport. It's something I've never experienced before. Going to a restaurant and having normal people know everything about track and field and asking you about the 10K or the steeplechase, things that normal people back home don't usually know is pretty cool."

On having two teammates to share this experience with ... "We'll definitely be spending a lot of time together. I'll get to know Derek (Sievers) a lot better because we don't get to spend time together at practice. Mason (Ferlic) is good to have because he was here last year. He knows the ropes -- he knew where to run today and showed me around. Mason and coach Gibby have been taking me through my first time here."

On drawing on other experiences racing at a high level ... "At this point I've done enough races to know when to keep my nerves down. I don't think I've been to a venue like this before, but I think my experience in keeping my nerves down will come in handy."


Derek Sievers
Byron Center, Mich.

On his performance at regionals that got him to nationals ... "After warm ups I knew it was going to be a good meet -- I was hitting easy 18 meter throws. And then coach Clayton kept me real calm. He does a great job of keeping me calm and giving me a few little cues here and there. After the first throw was 17.70m, he kept me calm and I knew good things were about to come. I lined up the second one and after that the series just skyrocketed. I didn't know I had qualified for nationals until the last round of finals because there were a lot of good guys behind me, two of which beat me at Big Tens so I was a little concerned until the last round. I knew after I threw 18.85m that I had a chance. It didn't really sink in until we got back to the hotel that I was going to go to nationals. It was a great feeling that I was going to Eugene to represent myself and the University of Michigan, but I wanted it to be a group experience which didn't play out."

On improving consistently since last season ... "Even though I didn't get results my freshman and my redshirt year, I put in a lot of work. I didn't see results for the first couple years and I'm starting to see the results from those first two years and the work in the offseason earlier this year and in the weight room. I'm finally starting to line everything up and that's a lot of what coach Clayton has help me with, is just putting everything together into fluid motion. I don't have to worry about hitting certain positions or technique as much as just going out there and having fun, staying relaxed and getting it done.

On three Wolverines representing U-M at the national championships ... "Since it's me and two distance runners, I didn't really know Mason (Ferlic) and Morsi (Rayyan) that well and I've already gotten to know them a lot better in the last two days. I know the distance program has for sure caught the bug, and the throws group too. The jumpers, the throwers and sprinters are all starting to get the vibe that we're doing the right things to make it happen and we're putting a better product out there than we have in the past."

• Previous Spotlight: Derek Sievers