Sept. 10, 2013
Athlete Interviews: Morsi Rayyan | Mark Beams
• The Team Behind the Team: Volunteer Assistant Dusty Lopez
Friday, Sept. 13 -- at Purdue Invitational (West Lafayette, Ind.), 6:30 p.m.
After a week off from competition, the 26th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team will hit the road for the first time this season, traveling to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Purdue Invitational on Friday (Sept. 13). The men's non-scoring 8K race will begin at 6:30 p.m., following the women's 6K at 6 p.m. at the Boilermaker Cross Country Course.
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Race Day Information: Course Map | Course Information
Wolverines in Action: Jarred Bratley, Nathan Karr, George Kelly, Alex Moran, Nick Posada, Jeff Sattler, James Yau.
* Indicates time run in 2011
Friday's meet will serve as a preview of the Big Ten Championships course for the Wolverines, as the conference event will be hosted by Purdue on Sunday, Nov. 3.
The Big Ten preview meet will also feature conference opponents Illinois, Ohio State and Purdue. Michigan is the only nationally ranked team competing in the event.
The Purdue Invitational will be the first 8K race of the season for the Wolverines. Races will remain at that distance for the rest of the season, with the exception of the NCAA Championships, which will increase to a 10K course.
Michigan earned a national ranking of No. 26 in the USTFCCCA Preseason Coaches' Poll on Aug. 27. It marked the second straight season the Wolverines appeared in the top 30 in the preseason rankings after starting the season at No. 19 a year ago. The first regular-season poll will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Sophomore Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D./Rapid City Central) will not be with the team at Purdue, as he will be representing Team USA in the 2013 World Triathlon Championships on Thursday, Sept. 14, in London as a member of the men's junior team. He took first at the Triathlon Pan American Championships on June 30 in Itaparica, Vila Velha, Brazil, to qualify for the world championships.
The 2013 roster features 14 returners from a year ago, including six that were members of the 2012 Big Ten runner-up team. Senior Mark Beams (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg), sophomore Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D./Rapid City Central) and senior Morsi Rayyan (Dewitt, Mich./St. Johns) are U-M's returners from its NCAA Championship squad.
Senior/junior James Yau (Troy, Mich./Troy) earned his first collegiate race victory at the Michigan Open on Aug. 30, completing the 5K course in a collegiate-best 5K time of 15:52.15.
After redshirting in 2012, sophomore/freshman George Kelly (Lincroft, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) made his collegiate debut for the Wolverines at the Michigan Open (Aug. 30), finishing sixth in 16:07.95.
U-M's roster includes 11 true freshmen. Freshman Ben Flanagan (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada/St. Mary's HS) is one newcomer who could make an immediate impact for the Wolverines. He is a three-year member of the Canadian Junior National Cross Country team and owns a personal best 8K time of 24:34, which would currently rank fourth on the team.
Mark Beams and Morsi Rayyan represented Michigan as team captains during the 2012 season.
Junior Mason Ferlic (St. Paul, Minn./Mounds Park Academy) competed in just one meet a year ago due to injury but returned for a strong outdoor track season, where he finished as a second team All-American in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Junior/sophomore August Pappas (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) was a member of last year's NCAA Championships squad but was unable to finish the 10K at the national meet due to injury. Ferlic and Pappas will each return to help lead the Wolverines this season.
Last season, Michigan constructed its most successful season since 2008, finishing runner-up at the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Great Lakes Regional. The Wolverines also qualified for the NCAA Championships as a team for the second consecutive year, placing 23rd. Mark Beams and Morsi Rayyan garnered All-Great Lakes Region and All-Big Ten second team accolades.
THE GIBBY FILES
Head coach Alex Gibby is in his fourth year at the helm of the men's cross country program. In 2012, Gibby guided Michigan to its best season in four years, highlighted by runner-up finishes at the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Great Lakes Regional. He also helped Michigan qualify for the NCAA Championships as a team for the second straight year. Gibby has wasted no time taking the program to the next level as the Wolverines have improved their conference and regional finishes each year under his guidance. The 2012 season marked the first time since 2008 that the top five finishers at the regional meet all earned All-Great Lakes Region honors. At the 2012 Big Ten Championships, Gibby also produced three All-Big Ten performers for the first time since the 2008 season.
Annual Results During the Gibby Era
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
On how his summer training went ... "I was pretty happy with how my summer training went. I headed home fairly early as soon as school got done. I had a triathlon May 5 that I was training for during the latter part of the track season. I went to the triathlon in Virginia on May 5, and then I went straight home. I then got ready for Pan American Triathlon Championships, which were in Brazil at the end of June. I kind of focused my training during the summer toward that and then after Pan Am's I took a couple weeks off and then from there I built up through more triathlon training for the world championships this week. I also started to incorporate more running for cross country season as well."
On his experience at the Pan American Championships in Brazil ... "It was a great experience going to Brazil. It was fun going down there and seeing a little bit of the country before the Olympics in 2016. I was pretty happy with how the race went. The main reason I was going down there was to hopefully qualify for worlds. I had to be top three at that event and ended up coming away with the win so I was happy with that."
On being in London for the World Triathlon Championships ... "It's always a great experience to represent the United States. We're actually about 45 minutes outside of London right now where it's a little less congested. We can have a little more focused training here away from all the traffic and people. We'll head into London tomorrow afternoon so we can try out the course and get used to the area."
On switching gears to cross country when he returns to Ann Arbor ... "It feels like a completely different team from when I was a freshman to now as a sophomore. We have a whole new group of guys -- we have a large class of freshmen and I think we're going to have an awesome year this year. We lost a couple guys last year who were seniors, but I think everyone that is coming back is making a huge step up. Everyone is running well and I also think we have some freshmen who can contribute to the team at the championship level as well. I'll put in some solid training after worlds and then my first race will be at the Wisconsin Invitational (Oct. 19)."
On being a biochemistry major and his future plans ... "I came in to the University of Michigan and I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do. I was deciding between engineering and biochemistry. It ended up that I was more interested in my science classes my first semester so I switched to biochemistry. I'll come out of Michigan with a biochemistry degree and then go onto graduate school and then do some research after that."
Saturday, Sept. 28 -- at Cowboy Jamboree (Stillwater, Okla.), 9:45 a.m. CDT
Friday, Oct. 4 -- at Notre Dame Blue and Gold Invitational (South Bend, Ind.), 5 p.m.
Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423