Toeing the Line #1: Sullivan Era to Begin at Michigan Open
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MGOBLUE
Aug. 27, 2014

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THIS WEEK
Friday, Aug. 29 -- host Michigan Open (Dexter, Mich.), 10:30 a.m.

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Race Day Information: Hudson Mills Metropark

Under the guidance of first-year head coach Kevin Sullivan, the 22nd-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team will begin the 2014 season on Friday (Aug. 29), hosting the annual Michigan Open at Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter, Mich. The non-scoring 5,000-meter race, which will start at 10:30 a.m., follows the women's race at 10 a.m. Admission to Hudson Mills Metropark is $7.

Top Returning Times

8,000-Meter Run
Mason Ferlic -- 23:35
Tony Smoragiewicz -- 24:13.40*
James Yau -- 24:23
August Pappas -- 24:24
Nick Renberg -- 24:25

10,000-Meter Run
Mason Ferlic -- 30:11
Mason Ferlic -- 30:32
August Pappas -- 30:57
Tony Smoragiewicz -- 31:00.10*
Ben Flanagan -- 31:18.8

*Indicates time run in 2012

WOLVERINE BITES

• The Michigan Open will provide an opportunity for many of U-M's younger runners to gain valuable race experience. Several Wolverines will make their collegiate debut in the 5K race, as U-M plans to race 14 runners in uniform and several more, unattached.

• The Wolverines return 21 harriers from their 2013 squad, including four that were members of the 2013 NCAA Great Lakes Regional title team. Juniors Mason Ferlic and Tony Smoragiewicz bring championship-race experience to the table, along with sophomores Ben Flanagan and Connor Mora.

Mason Ferlic earned All-America honors in 2013, becoming the first Wolverine to do so since Nate Brannen in 2004. Ferlic was U-M's top-scoring runner in all five meets in which the varsity squad competed, including all three championship events. He was named All-Big Ten second team for his efforts, along with Ben Flanagan.

• Last season, U-M earned its first NCAA Great Lakes Regional crown in six years (2007, t-1st), which was also its first outright title since 1997, after finishing runner-up at the Big Ten Championships for the second straight season. Mason Ferlic and August Pappas picked up All-Great Lakes Region honors.

• U-M's roster features 15 runners that have not competed in a Michigan uniform, including seven true freshmen and eight redshirt freshmen.

• The squad reported to campus last week and departed Aug. 20 for camp at the U-M Bio Station in Pellston, Mich. When they lace their shoes up in Dexter, the Wolverines will be fresh off an eight-day trip to Northern Michigan, where they trained and bonded as a team and were joined by the women's program.

HEAD COACH KEVIN SULLIVAN

• In 2014, former All-American Wolverine Kevin Sullivan takes over at the helm of the U-M program. A four-time Big Ten Athlete of the Year in cross country, Sullivan was also a four-time Big Ten and NCAA Great Lakes Regional champion with the team during his time in Ann Arbor (1993-97). He will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the program, including his four NCAA titles in track and field.

Sullivan hopes to build on a 21st-place finish at the NCAA Championships from last season while continuing U-M's recent success on the conference and regional levels. The Maize and Blue has finished top-two at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and Big Ten Championship meets in each of the past two seasons.

Getting to Know Coach Sullivan

According to Coach Sullivan

On camp at the U-M Biostation ... "The camp has been good on a lot of levels. Firstly, for me as a coach, I've been able to finally get to know the personalities of the guys as well as their athletic strengths. As a team, we've had some really good team bonding time and it's been nice to be here with the women as well. Overall it's been a very positive experience for everybody and we've gotten a lot of good work in as well, so we've been able to focus on the team and training."

On the importance of leadership ... "Leadership is going to be key for us this year. Any time you have change, it's important to have strong leaders and I feel we do have strong leaders on our team. We have a lot of guys that have been here in the program for a year, two years, three years, and that's what you need. Those guys have helped me learn the team just as much as me observing. The transition has been pretty smooth for the most part and that comes from having that leadership on your team."

On his transition and growing closer with the team over camp ... "Being around a group of guys for almost 24/7, you learn a lot about them. I'm learning a little bit more about their personalities and background, and how they interact with each other, which has been good for me. With 24 different guys and personalities, you have to learn how to interact with each guy on a personal level. Even if it's just a two-minute chat with a guy after a workout, you have to find out how they're doing, how they're feeling and how they're responding to what I'm trying to implement. It goes back to the importance of us having this week at camp as a team, together."

On his goals for the Michigan Open ... "We're approaching this with less emphasis on the race aspect of things. We're really going to turn it into a workout. We will be out there with 14 guys dressed in jerseys, but we're really going to try and run as a team and run controlled, then do a little bit of work afterwards as well. We have some things we're trying to accomplish but not as much from a high competitive standpoint. This will be a stepping stone towards the season coming up in the next month."

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
Saturday, Sept. 13 -- at Kentucky Invitational (Lexington, Ky.)
Saturday, Sept. 20 -- at Black & Gold Invitational (Iowa City, Iowa)

Contact: Chad Shepard