All-American Ferlic Paces Wolverines to 21st at NCAAs
Mason Ferlic

Nov. 23, 2013

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Site: Terre Haute, Ind. (LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course)
Meet: NCAA Championships (10,000 Meters)
U-M Finish: 21st Place of 31 Teams (433 points)
Top U-M Individual: Mason Ferlic, 22nd (30:32.8)
Next U-M Event: Season Complete

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The 13th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team was led by junior Mason Ferlic's (St. Paul, Minn./Mounds Park Academy) All-American performance, as the Wolverines finished 21st at the NCAA Championships with 433 points on Saturday (Nov. 23) at Indiana State's LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course.

Ferlic finished 22nd overall in a time of 30:32.8 to become Michigan's first All-American since Nate Brannen in 2004.

Colorado claimed the men's team title with 149 points, while Oregon freshman Edward Cheserek won the individual crown.

Ferlic got out well from the gun and began navigating his way through the crowded field early on. Between the 3K and 5K mark he advanced 31 places into the 28th spot.

Senior Mark Beams (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg) and freshman Ben Flanagan (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada/St. Mary's) remained close for the majority of the race. By the midway point, Flanagan moved his way through the field to within six spots of Beams, keeping his Maize and Blue teammate within his line of sight. With 2,000 meters to go, Beams and Flanagan were right together in the 90th and 93rd spots, respectively.

Ferlic got things going for the Wolverines, crossing the line in 30:32.8 to finish 22nd. Beams (31:13.2) and Flanagan (31:18.8) eventually finished the 10K race separated by just five seconds in 86th and 99th place, respectively, giving Michigan three top-100 finishers.

Senior Morsi Rayyan (Dewitt, Mich./St. Johns), who had trouble navigating through the congested field to find his teammates early in the race, was able to bypass 13 runners in the final 2,000 meters to finish 154th overall in a time of 31:49.2.

In his season debut at 10,000 meters, sophomore Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D./Rapid City Central) was Michigan's fifth scorer, stopping the clock at 31:59.8, to place 172nd overall.

Freshman Cory Glines (Canton, Ohio/St. Thomas Aquinas) (32:15.3) and junior/sophomore August Pappas (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) (32:32.3) rounded out U-M's seven-man squad, placing 197th and 217th, respectively.

In addition to Michigan's 21st-place finish at the national championships, the Wolverines wrapped up the 2013 postseason with its first NCAA Great Lakes Regional title since 2007 and their second straight runner-up performance at the Big Ten Championships.

Team Standings

  1. Colorado             149
  2. Northern Arizona     169
  3. Oklahoma State       230
  4. BYU                  267
  5. Oregon               274
  6. Iona                 284
  7. Portland             293
  8. Indiana              306
  9. Wisconsin            326
 10. Syracuse             329
 21. MICHIGAN             433

Top 10 Finishers

  1. Edward Cheserek, Oregon                        29:41.1
  2. Kennedy Kithuka, Texas Tech                    29:59.1
  3. Maksim Korolev, Harvard                        29:59.5
  4. Futsum Zienasellassie, Northern Arizona        30:05.7
  5. Jim Rosa, Stanford                             30:08.9
  6. Stanley Kebenei, Arkansas                      30:10.1
  7. Andrew Colley, N.C. State                      30:12.5
  8. Ben Saarel, Colorado                           30:14.1
  9. Patrick Tiernan, Villanova                     30:15.7
 10. Luke Caldwell, New Mexico                      30:17.2

Michigan Finishers

 22. Mason Ferlic, U-M                              30:32.8
 86. Mark Beams, U-M                                31:13.2
 99. Ben Flanagan, U-M                              31:18.8
154. Morsi Rayyan, U-M                              31:49.2
172. Tony Smoragiewicz, U-M                         31:59.8
197. Cory Glines, U-M                               32:15.3
217. August Pappas, U-M                             32:32.3


• Due to the extremely muddy and wet conditions of the course, the start line was moved up 110 meters. Therefore no times could be counted as course or NCAA records.

• Michigan made its third straight appearance at the NCAA Championships as a team (2011, '12, '13).

Mason Ferlic became the first All-American at Michigan since Nate Brannen in 2004, for his top-40 performance.

• Just 30 points separated the 17th-21st place teams -- 17 North Carolina (403), 18 Villanova (415), 19 Stanford (417), 20 Air Force (419), 21 Michigan (433).

Ben Flanagan and Cory Glines each made their NCAA Championship debut today. August Pappas completed his first race at the national meet, as he was unable to finish last year's race due to injury.

• It marked the collegiate finale for seniors Mark Beams and Morsi Rayyan.

Mason Ferlic has been Michigan's top finisher in each of the five races that the varsity squad has competed in this season.


Michigan Head Coach Alex Gibby
On the team's performance today ... "The tough bill to handle is that we were very mediocre and that comes with some qualifications because as opposed to the last couple years where we walked away from this race with a good individual performance, and maybe a decent individual performance in addition, we walked away from this meet with three outstanding races. We just were tactically deficient at four and five. We were too patient in the early going and we could never in those conditions get ourselves back into the right place. It's unfortunate that we had that sort of disparity because we were really well set up though three guys and we would have liked to finish the deal."

On Mason Ferlic consistently being Michigan's top runner all season ... "He has been outstanding in a multitude of facets -- 1. as a runner, 2. as a human being and 3. as a leader. He's young, he's learning and he's learning on the fly, which is tough to do, particularly when you're in a leadership position. But he's handled it tremendously. One thing I think people don't understand about today is that he ran in similar muddy conditions at the Big Ten and was really penalized. He's not a strength-oriented runner. He's efficient and he's graceful, but there's no power to his game. At the Big Ten, he really struggled over the last mile, ending up ninth, and losing to a bunch of guys who he handled and handled well today. He was the first Big Ten finisher across the line. You speak about learning curves during the championship portion of the season and in three weeks he's listened to the tactics of what we've wanted him to do and he executed very successfully. The learning curve moved very quickly for him."

On the bright future of the program with such a young team ... "There absolutely is and that's one of the tough things is that we're old and young at the same time. We have two seniors in Mark Beams and Morsi Rayyan, who won't be back in cross country so we wanted to send them out on a high note, and we almost got there. The rest of the group, we have years to grow. August (Pappas) and Mason (Ferlic) have come a tremendous way and then we also have three freshmen in the lineup, which is unusual. Connor (Mora), Cory (Glines) and Ben (Flanagan) have been in our varsity all year. On top of that, both Connor and Cory got very good 10,000 meter experience at the regional and then Ben turns around with a very good true-freshman performance at the NCAA. Outside of Edward Cheserek from Oregon, Ben may have been the third or fourth true freshman across the line."

On the progress the program has made in his time at Michigan ... "As a coach, your tendency is to access what's right in front of you in the moment, so for me, we certainly feel unfulfilled with 21st in the country. We're better than that, we just need to prove it. When you take a step back and view the season within in the prism of, we competed for a Big Ten title, that's a position we haven't been in yet since I've been here. We won regional title -- that's something Michigan hasn't done in a long time. It's nice to have our first All-American in about 10 years in cross country. There are also parts of our program that the rest of the community doesn't see like our overall depth. We've gone from a position where we only had five or six quality guys to where we're really choosing from 10-12 guys at the end of the year. And we also ran a time trial on Wednesday with all of our guys we weren't competing at the NCAAs, which in 30 degree weather and 15 mile per hour winds went exceptionally well. Certainly from a momentum standpoint, we are building. And now the goal going forward for cross country -- we have that goal of finishing our climb to the top of the Big Ten and performing at our ability at the NCAA Championship, while defending our regional title. That's where a lot of our focus will be, but we'll use track season to identify some of those steps. One nice thing about being a distance runner is that you have to have a little bit of a short memory because we're back in our training in a week and a half. We now have to contribute to our indoor and outdoor track teams. It's a great learning and developmental opportunity and that's what we're looking forward to. It's a repeating circle where one thing builds upon the other -- track credentials will aid us in cross country, better cross country performances will aid us in track. That's the reinforcing cycle that we'd like to get started."

U-M Junior Mason Ferlic
On how he was able to succeed in tough conditions today ... "The course was really muddy and torn up. It was a huge element to deal with, but it doesn't change the fact that you still have to get out there and race a 10K. The plan was really to get out there and relax -- it you try to force things or muscle your way through and fight the mud, you're going to get stuck in the back. My whole plan was to expend as little amount of energy as possible getting through 5-6K. I think I did a great job of staying relaxed and calm. It set up well that a lot of people ended up fading that couldn't handle the mud or the pressure of being at nationals, and I was able to take advantage of that and work my way up to about 20th around 8K. At 8K it really turned into a grind -- that was probably the hardest mile I've ever had to do to finish a race, but at that point you just grind your way to the finish. I was really happy with today."

On being the first All-American since 2004 ... "It's a huge honor being an All-American along with the Michigan greats -- there have been Olympians, Big Ten champions, national champions, All-Americans at Michigan so to be part of that group is a huge honor. Hopefully it's a sign of more good things to come."

Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423