Toeing the Line #2: U-M to Preview Big Ten Course at Spartan Invite
Jeff Sattler

Sept. 11, 2012

Friday, Sept. 14 -- at Spartan Invitational (East Lansing, Mich.), 12:35 p.m.
Entry List | Spectator Information

The 20th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team will travel to Michigan State for the Spartan Invitational on Friday (Sept. 14) at MSU's Forest Akers Golf Course in East Lansing, Mich. The men's race is slated for a 12:35 p.m. start, following the women's event at noon. The 8,000-meter race will serve as a trial run for the Big Ten Championships, which will be hosted by the Spartans on Oct. 28.

Michigan will be joined by 29 other teams, as well as several unattached athletes at the Spartan Invitational. The Big Ten Conference will also be represented by Michigan State and Ohio State. Michigan will be the only ranked program competing in the race.

Wolverines in Action
Eight Wolverines will compete for Michigan at the Spartan Invitational -- Trevor Denton, Scott Dvorak, Nathan Karr, Justin Krauss, Dallas North, Matt Popielarz, Jeff Sattler and James Yau.

Top Career Times
8,000-Meter Run 10,000-Meter Run
Brendon Blacklaws 24:26.00 Brendon Blacklaws 30:50.50
Morsi Rayyan 24:32.00 Zach Ornelas 30:55.30
Zach Ornelas 24:35.00 Mark Beams 31:02.60
James Yau 25:10.00 Morsi Rayyan 31:08.10
Nathan Karr 25:18.00 Mason Ferlic 31:43.60

Last Time on the Course -- The Wolverines kicked off the 2012 season hosting the annual Michigan Open on Aug. 31 at Hudson Mills Metro Park. Junior/sophomore James Yau (Troy, Mich./Troy) was Michigan's highest finisher in the 5,000-meter event, taking second place in a time of 16:02.

Career Debuts -- Four Wolverines made their collegiate career debuts at the Michigan Open on Aug. 31. Sophomore/freshmen Jeff Sattler (Byron Center, Mich./Byron Center), Scotty Albaugh (Waterford, Mich./Waterford Mott), Nick Posada (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) and Scott Dvorak (Westmont, Ill./Westmont) each redshirted last season and donned the Maize and Blue for the first time in the 5,000-meter race. Sattler was Michigan's second-highest finisher, crossing the line in fourth place with a time of 16:26.

Core of Retuners -- The 2012 Wolverine roster features 21 returners from last season, including five from the varsity squad. U-M returned all except two of its scorers from last year's team, including junior Mark Beams (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg), senior/junior Brendon Blacklaws (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College), sophomore Mason Ferlic (St. Paul, Minn./Mounds Park Academy), senior Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge) and junior Morsi Rayyan (Dewitt, Mich./St. Johns). Blacklaws was Michigan third-highest finisher at last year's regional meet, earning All-Great Lakes Region honors.

Talented Newcomers -- The Wolverines have added seven new faces to this year's roster, including six freshmen and one transfer. Senior transfer Dan Lowry (Philadelphia, Pa./La Salle College) was an All-American a year ago for Brown University. Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D./Hamilton) highlights the group of freshmen expected to contribute. He was a two-time South Dakota state champion and won the bronze medal at the 2011 World Junior Triathlon Championships.

Calling the Shots -- Head coach Alex Gibby in in his third year at the helm of the men's cross country program. In 2011, Gibby guided Michigan to its best season in three years, which was highlighted by the team's first trip to the NCAA Championships since 2008. The Wolverines' 20th-place finish at the national meet came after taking third at the Great Lakes Regional and Big Ten Championships. In his inaugural campaign in 2010, Gibby's squad finished eighth at the conference meet, seventh at regionals and sent just one individual at the NCAA Championships.

Annual Results During the Gibby Era

Year Big Ten Regional NCAA
2010 8th 7th --
2011 T3rd 3rd 20th

In the Rear View Mirror -- Last season, Mighigan constructed its most successful season since 2008, improving its finish at each postseason meet. The Wolverines jumped five spots at the Big Ten Championships, finishing in a tie for third and moved up four positions at the Great Lakes Regional to third place. The Maize and Blue capped the season with a trip to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2008, finishing 20th overall.

The Wolverines dropped one spot to No. 20 in the first regular season NCAA Division I cross country poll, released Tuesday (Sept. 11) by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). This year marks the first time Michigan has appeared in the top 30 during the first regular season poll since 2009 (No. 23). In 2011, U-M did not crack the top 30 until the third regular season poll, where they were ranked No. 28. U-M also continues to own the third spot in the Great Lakes Region poll.

Michigan men's cross country is on Facebook. Connect with the program, alumni and fans by clicking the "Like" button at Also, be sure to follow the team on Twitter (@umichtrack) for up-to-the-minute news and information throughout the season and beyond.

Saturday, Sept. 22 -- at Virginia/Paranorama Farms Invitational (Earlysville, Va.), 10 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 28 -- at Notre Dame Invitational (South Bend, Ind.), 5 p.m.

Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423