Weekly #12: U-M to Travel South for Georgia Spec Towns Invite

Weekly #12: U-M to Travel South for Georgia Spec Towns Invite

Provided by U of M

The University of Michigan men's track and field team will compete in the Spec Towns National Team Invitational on Friday and Saturday (April 13-14). Competition will begin at 11 a.m. on both days at Spec Towns Track. Senior/junior Kurt Reichenbach (Brighton, Mich./Pinckney Community) will also represent the Wolverines in the Bulldog Decathlon on Thursday and Friday (April 12-13). Both events will be held at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.


Athletes in Action this Weekend -- Bobby Aprill, Ali Arastu, Brad Bolton, Erik Braun, Matthew Campbell, Patrick Cochran, Ethan Dennis, Austin DeWildt, Justin Gaumer, Erick Gavin, Jack Greenlee, Bradley James, Nick Neuman, Dallas North, Eric Oliver, Michael Parker Jr., Robert Peddlar, Kurt Reichenbach, Troy Sneller, Aaron Taylor, Nick Thomas, Taylor Voice, Herman Washington and Philip Washington.

Setting the Scene -- The meet will be held at Georgia's Spec Towns Track, which recently underwent a three-million dollar renovation in 2010. In addition to the new eight-lane BSAF Conipur MX full depth track, the facility also features two completely redesigned throwing circles with cages, five vaulting areas and four expanded long jump areas, along with two javelin runways and a shot put area.

Decathlon 101 -- The Bulldog decathlon will consist of 10 different events contested over a two-day span -- five on each day. Thursday's competition will feature the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400-meter dash, while Friday will include the 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500-meter run. Reichenbach will be joined by athletes from Georgia, Finland and South Florida, as well as several unattached athletes.

Last year at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, Reichenbach finished fifth in the decathlon with a lifetime-best 6,936 points. His highest finish came in the 400-meter dash, where he placed second.

Wolverines of the Week -- Each week throughout the season, the track and field coaching staff will select members of the team as Wolverines of the Week. "The team recognition is based on personal accomplishments that enhance team objectives and examples of competitive focus," said head coach Fred LaPlante.

This week's Wolverines of the Week are sophomore Morsi Rayyan (Dewitt, Mich./St. Johns), junior/sophomore Ethan Dennis (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville), junior Brendon Blacklaws (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College) and sophomore Erick Gavin (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic).

At the Colonial Relays, Rayyan shaved 23 seconds off his previous personal best in the 5,000-meter run to finish seventh overall in a time of 13:57.34. Dennis won the hammer throw after recording a lifetime-best mark of 61.33 meters (201-2.00). Blacklaws finished sixth in the 1,500-meter run in a time of 3:46.81. He also ran the anchor leg of the winning sprint medley relay and the first leg of the 1,500-meter relay, which finished second. After qualifying for the 110-meter hurdle finals, Gavin finished third overall in 14.31. He also ran the anchor for the runner-up 4x100-meter relay.

Fresh Faces -- Michigan added 22 new student-athletes to the roster this season. Of those 22, seven competed for the Wolverines during the indoor track and field season. Philip Washington (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield) was the only freshman on the 4x400-meter relay team at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, which finished fourth, and was an alternate on the relay at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

At the Colonial Relays (April 6), sophomore/freshman Mark Beams (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg) ran the 5,000-meter run in his outdoor collegiate debut. Three Wolverine freshmen made their collegiate outdoor debuts at the Trojan Invitational -- Brad Bolton (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro), Scott Dvorak (Westmont, Ill./Westmont) and Philip Washington (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield). Redshirt freshmen Justin Gaumer (Holly, Mich./Holly) and James Yau (Troy, Mich./Troy) competed for U-M in their first collegiate outdoor meet at USC.

Last Time on the Track: Michigan took first at the Colonial Relays (April 6-7), tallying 167 points. Two Wolverines recorded first-place finishes and one relay team won at the two-day event. Sophomore Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville) won the 400-meter hurdles, while junior/sophomore Ethan Dennis (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville) took first in the hammer throw. The winning sprint medley relay consisted of sophomore Eric Oliver (Berkeley, Calif./Homewood-Flossmoor [Ill.]) running the 400-meter leg , senior Nick Neuman (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and junior/sophomore Troy Sneller (Hamilton, Mich./Hamilton) in the middle 200-meter legs, and junior Brendon Blacklaws (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College) finishing with the final 800 meters. [ MGoBlue Recap: Day One | Day Two :: Michigan Daily]

Relays Galore -- At the William & Mary Colonial Relays (April 6-7), Michigan competed in six different relay events. The Wolverines took first in the sprint medley relay and finished runner up in the other five relays, including the 4x100-, 4x200-, 4x1500-, 4x400-meter and distance medley relays. The 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays are the only two events contested at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Eleven different athletes got the opportunity to compete on at least one relay team at the meet. Michigan registered 52 of its 167 total team points during the relay events.

Among the Big Ten's Best

Several Michigan track and field athletes rank among the best in the Big Ten through the early season.





Justin Clarke (So.)

100m Dash



Brendon Blacklaws (Jr.)

1,500m Run



Craig Forys (R-Sr.)

5,000m Run



Morsi Rayyan (So.)

5,000m Run



Erick Gavin (So.)

110m Hurdles



Herman Washington (So.)

110m Hurdles



Ali Arastu (So.)

400m Hurdles



Michael Parker Jr. (R-Fr.)

400m Hurdles



Zach Ornelas (Jr.)

3,000m Steeple



Nick Neuman, Ali Arastu,

Aaron Taylor, Michael Parker Jr.

4x400m Relay



Robert Peddlar (R-Sr.)

Long Jump

24-1.00 ft.


Ethan Dennis (R-So.)

Hammer Throw

201-2.00 ft.


Joe Strizich (Sr.)


188-0.00 ft.



Personal Improvement -- With just two meets crossed off the 2012 schedule, 13 Wolverines have set new PRs in at least one event, with four improving in two events. During the 2012 indoor season,36 student-athletes recorded new PRs.

Peddlar Returns for Final Season -- Fifth-year senior Robert Peddlar (Kingston, Jamaica/Wolmer's Boys), who exhausted his indoor track and field eligibility in 2011 and could not compete indoor in 2012, returned to the field for his final outdoor season at the USC Trojan Invitational on March 31. He finished second in the long jump in his outdoor season debut. Peddlar is the only current Wolverine to have won an individual Big Ten title as he won the Big Ten indoor long jump in 2010.

DeWildt Family Traditions -- Junior pole vaulter Austin DeWildt (Wyoming, Mich./Catholic Central) was named the team's Most Improved Athlete in 2011. He tied for third at the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and went on to finish 13th at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds. Austin's older brother, Charles DeWildt, was the last Michigan pole vaulter to win a Big Ten outdoor pole vault title in 2000. Charles ranks second on U-M's all-time outdoor performers list with a vault of 17-4.75, which he cleared in 2000. Their father, Charles Sr., was a pole vaulter at Western Michigan.

2011 Outdoor Rewind -- Michigan finished ninth at the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and was represented by Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) at the NCAA Championships. Forys qualified for the finals in the 3,000-meter steeplechase where he finished ninth to earn All-America second team honors.

2012 NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING -- For the third consecutive season, the East and West Preliminary Championship competition will be utilized to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Using a descending order list, the top 48 athletes in each event will participate in two rounds (first round and quarterfinals) during the Preliminary Round. Twelve competitors from each individual event and 12 teams from each relay event will advance from each Preliminary Championship competition to the NCAA Championships. There are no qualifying marks used during the outdoor season. This year's NCAA East Preliminary Round will be held at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla.


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


Thu-Sat., April 19-21 -- at Mt. SAC Relays (Walnut, Calif.), 11 a.m. PDT