Toeing the Line #3: U-M to Head South for Florida Mountain Dew Invite

Toeing the Line #3: U-M to Head South for Florida Mountain Dew Invite

Provided by U of M


Saturday, Sept. 24 -- at Florida Mountain Dew Invitational (Gainesville, Fla.), 8 a.m.

The University of Michigan men's cross country jumps into the heart of its season on Saturday (Sept. 24) at the University of Florida Mountain Dew Invitational. The 8,000-meter race is slated for an 8 a.m. start at UF's Mark Bostick Golf Course.

The meet will be the first large invitational for the Wolverines this season. The 17-team field will also include two ranked teams in No. 28 Florida and No. 30 North Carolina. Michigan has only faced one other ranked opponent this season in No. 2 Wisconsin at the Illinois Orange & Blue Preview (Sept. 16).

U-M will send an 11-man squad to the race -- fifth-year senior Craig Forys, senior Bobby Aprill, senior/junior Derek Henning, junior Zach Ornelas, sophomore Nathan Karr, junior/sophomore Brendon Blacklaws, sophomore/freshman James Yau, sophomore Morsi Rayyan, sophomore Matt Popielarz, sophomore Mark Beams and freshman Mason Ferlic. Forys, Rayyan, Beams and Ferlic will all make their season debuts.

Florida Mountain Dew Invitational Field:

Embry-RiddleNo. 30 North Carolina
Flagler CollegeNova Southeastern
No. 28 FloridaRollins
Florida AtlanticSaint Leo
Florida Gulf CoastSouth Florida (USF)
Florida International (FIU)Stetson
Johnson & WalesWarner

Meet Information

Top Wolverine Times
8,000-Meter Run10,000-Meter Run
Bobby Aprill23.50.9Craig Forys30:29.14
Craig Forys23:55.2Bobby Aprill30:49.56
Zach Ornelas24:35.0Brendon Blacklaws31:56.75
Brendon Blacklaws24:46.0Zach Ornelas31:58.17
Morsi Rayyan24:55.4Morsi Rayyan32:05.12

Michigan placed three runners in the top 10 and took third overall at the Illinois Orange & Blue Preview (Sept. 16). The 8,000-meter race was the Wolverines' first at that distance this season, as well as their first time facing Big Ten competition in 2011. The meet, which also featured Wisconsin and host Illinois, was held at the site of the Big Ten Championships, to be held Oct. 30. For the second consecutive week, junior Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge HS) led all U-M runners across the finish line with a personal-best 8k time of 24:35, finishing fifth overall. In their season debuts, junior/sophomore Brendon Blacklaws (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College) and senior Bobby Aprill (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS) joined Ornelas in the top 10, placing eighth and ninth, respectively.

A Dynamic Duo -- Of the four meets fifth-year senior Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) and senior Bobby Aprill (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS) competed in during the 2010 season, one of the two finished as Michigan's lead runner. They split the spotlight, each winning two races. After sitting out the first two meets this season, Forys will return to the course to join Aprill and the Wolverines for his season debut at UF. Forys earned All-Big Ten second team last season and represented the Maize and Blue at the NCAA Championships, while Aprill was named to the All-Big Ten first team. Aprill made his season debut last weekend at the Orange & Blue Preview, finishing ninth with a time of 24:51.0.

Fantastic Freshman -- Freshman Mason Ferlic (St. Paul, Minn./Mounds Park Academy) will be the only true freshman to race for the Wolverines this season. Ferlic, the 2010 Minnesota state high school cross country champion, will make his career debut in the Sunshine State. The Florida Mountain Dew Invitational will mark his first showing in the 8,000-meter event.

Calling the Shots -- Head coach Alex Gibby is in his second season at the helm of the men's cross country program. With one solid year of experience under his belt, Gibby's expectations for the team have elevated. Under Gibby's direction, the Maize and Blue finished eighth at the 2010 Big Ten Championship and seventh at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. In his first season, Gibby produced one NCAA Championship qualifier and guided two harriers to All-Big Ten honors. Prior to coming to Michigan, Gibby served as the head coach of the William and Mary men's cross country and track and field programs from 2003-10. Gibby paced the Tribe to four straight top-16 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, three NCAA Southeast Region titles and seven CAA cross country titles. In 2009, Gibby was honored as the Southeast Region Coach of the Year for the third time in his career (2005, '08, '09) after leading William and Mary to fifth place at the NCAA Championships.

Michigan cross country/track is now on Twitter. Sign up and follow the Wolverines (michigan_track) with up-to-the-minute news and information throughout the season and beyond. Twitter is a free casual, online social network that is designed to connect businesses, organizations and individuals. Each Twitter post (or "tweet") can be received on a user's cell phone via text or on the web.

Saturday, Oct. 14 -- at Wisconsin adidas Invitational (Madison, Wis.), 10 a.m. CDT
Sunday, Oct. 30 -- at Big Ten Championships (Champaign, Ill.), 10:45 a.m. CDT