PELLSTON, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's cross country team arrived in Pellston, Mich., on Wednesday, Aug. 20, to start its preseason training camp at the University of Michigan Biological Station. The squad will put in eight days of hard work and team bonding to return to Ann Arbor ready for the start of the season.
The Wolverines, experiencing camp for the first time under new head coach Kevin Sullivan, will open the 2014 campaign by hosting the Michigan Open on Friday, Aug. 29. The men's race is set to begin at 10:30 a.m., following the women's meet at 10 a.m.
The 2014 team hopes to build on an NCAA regional title from a year ago, and will lean on returning All-American Mason Ferlic, the team's first All-American honoree in nearly a decade. Check out the team's full season preview for more.
Throughout preseason camp, Coach Sullivan and several members of the team will provide some insight on team training, bonding and other activities exclusively on MGoBlue.com.
U-M Senior James Yau:
On the benefits of having the team together in a competitive atmosphere so close to race day ... "A lot of us spent time training over the summer and it's hard training by yourself. Having the entire team here and having the women's team here this year, we're all training together. It's such a great feeling to have guys working towards the same goal and preparing the same way, both physically and mentally. Right now we don't know who's going to compete when we get back, but we'll see how the first few workouts go and make a decision from there. It's really encouraging to see the energy that we have from both programs."
On the mindset of the team during the trip ... "While we're up here, it's good to get the younger guys accustomed to training at a high level, but to make sure we aren't racing each other. With the leadership from upperclassmen, we can get them into a mindset that this is a good training group and we aren't here to run each other into the ground. We've also had some time to relax, so we've been going to the lake. This is our first time at camp with the women so the coaches had us do an icebreaker where we paired up guys and girls and introduced ourselves and got to know both teams a little more. That was fun, and that's the first time I've done anything like that in four years."
Head Coach Kevin Sullivan
On building a team culture ... "It's important as a team, especially one with a lot of newcomers and a new coach, to learn about each other and this is a great time for us to do that. As a coach, I need to be able to learn about the guys on the team and help them start reintegrating themselves into the team culture. For our freshmen it's really important to be able to spend some time with the upperclassmen and learn how things operate and what daily practice is like at the college level. We need to get them into a comfort zone before we get into school and they have other distractions outside of that. It's a good opportunity for us to focus on the team and the season at hand. With all the change going on in the program, it's good for us to have this time to be able to learn how everybody operates."
On the structural benefits of a distraction-free camp ... "We're going to go into that first meet pretty low-key, so we're approaching it with the mindset that it is not a high-pressure, high-stress situation. My goal is to get the team into good routines in training so that when we do start adding in more things like school and social events and all the other things that are part of being a regular college student, we've already got the athletic routine established and we can stay in a good routine throughout the season. It's really about building a daily routine that we can start working around as we add more distractions in."
U-M Junior Mason Ferlic
On how camp brings the team closer together ... "Preseason camp is fantastic opportunity we get to enjoy here at Michigan. It really gives us the opportunity to bond as a team without the distractions of returning to campus. While we are here we also have the opportunity to introduce the freshmen to the team culture and begin to build the team dynamic which is crucial during the championship season."
On his emotions with the season right around the corner ... "Personally, I am really excited for the upcoming season. We have a stellar group of guys that have put in hard work over the summer and are starting the season eager to contribute and do big things as a team. The transition to Coach Sullivan's leadership has been smooth and we all have faith in the direction he is taking the program. Look for Michigan on the course this year -- it's going to be fun."