Weekly #14: Wolverine Men Prepare for Historic Penn Relays

Weekly #14: Wolverine Men Prepare for Historic Penn Relays

Provided by U of M

The University of Michigan men's track and field team will travel to Philadelphia, Pa., this weekend to compete in the longest uninterrupted collegiate track meet in the country -- the historic Penn Relays. The three-day event will run from Thursday to Saturday (April 26-28). Action will begin on Thursday at 10 a.m. and resume again on Friday at 9 a.m. and Saturday at 7 a.m. at the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field.

Michigan Schedule of Events

Thursday, April 26

7:30 p.m. -- 3,000m Steeplechase, Zach Ornelas

9:20 p.m. -- 5,000m Run, Bobby Aprill

Friday, April 27

9 a.m. -- 400m Hurdles, Troy Sneller

4 p.m. -- Distance Medley Relay

4:40 p.m. -- 4x400m Relay (Prelims)

Saturday, April 28

9:30 a.m. -- Hammer Throw, Brad Bolton

4:35 p.m. -- 4x800m Relay

6 p.m. -- 4x400m Relay (Final)


Athletes in Action this Weekend -- Bobby Aprill, Ali Arastu, Brendon Blacklaws, Brad Bolton, Matthew Campbell, Scott Dvorak, Dallas North, Eric Oliver, Zach Ornelas, Michael Parker Jr., Troy Sneller, Aaron Taylor, Philip Washington and James Yau.

Michigan at the Penn Relays -- Michigan's men's track and field team has a storied history of competing in the Penn Relays, dating back to the early 1900s. The Wolverines are currently third with 43 College Division Relay championships behind first-place Villanova (88) and second-place Penn (54.5). The Wolverines have also recorded 58 individual titles at the Penn Relays. Sophomore Cody Riffle (Toledo, Ohio/St. John's Jesuit), who is currently redshirting this season, is the only current Wolverine with a Penn Relays title, having won the discus title last year as a freshman with a throw of 54.50 meters (178-10).

Michigan's first relay title came in 1903 when the mile relay ran a time of 18:39.80 to finish first. The Wolverines' most-recent relay victory came in 2005 when U-M won the distance medley, the 4xmile and the 4x800-meter relays.

• Michigan Penn Relays History

Setting the Scene -- Penn's historic Franklin Field first opened in 1895 for the inaugural Penn Relays. The facility has undergone numerous renovations over the years and now features SprinTurf, a next-generation rubber-infill artificial surface, which was installed in 2004, as well as a state-of-the-art scoreboard and videoboard. The newly refurbished stadium can seat 52,593 spectators.

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 junior/sophomore Ethan Dennis (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville) and sophomore Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville). This marks the second consecutive weekly team honor for Dennis and third time being recognized during the indoor and outdoor seasons.

At the Mt. SAC Relays, Dennis and Arastu each recorded a win in their respective events. Dennis won the weight throw with a toss of 62.53 meters (205-2), while Arastu's lifetime best of 50.54 in the 400-meter hurdles was good enough to finish first. Arastu's time moved him into second in the Big Ten and eighth in the nation.

Mixing up the Relay -- Nine different athletes have competed on the 4x400-meter relay team in the first four meets of the outdoor season. At the Mt. SAC Relays last weekend, the Wolverines ran a season-best time of 3:08.88 to finish second in the event behind Minnesota; the mark ranks fifth in the Big Ten. The relay was made up of freshman Philip Washington (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield), sophomore Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville), senior/junior Matthew Campbell (Rochester, Mich./Rochester) and junior/sophomore Troy Sneller (Hamilton, Mich./Hamilton).

During the 2012 indoor season, the relay team of senior Nick Neuman (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), sophomore/freshman Michael Parker Jr. (Jackson, Mich./Michigan Center), junior Aaron Taylor (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester Adams) and Arastu ran a season-best time of 3:07.75 to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Indoor Championships. All four members of the squad earned All-America second team honors.

Last Time on the Track: Mt. SAC Relays -- Michigan recorded two winning performances at the Mt. SAC Relays (April 19-20). Junior/sophomore Ethan Dennis (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville) won the hammer throw with a mark of 62.53 meters (205-2). Dennis' toss was just 0.22 meters shy of his school-record setting throw he registered at the Spec Towns Invitational (April 13-14). Sophomore Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville) ran the eighth-fastest time in the nation this season of 50.54 in the 400-meter hurdles to win the event. Michigan's 4x400-meter relay team, which was comprised of freshman Philip Washington (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield), Arastu, senior/junior Matthew Campbell (Rochester, Mich./Rochester) and junior/sophomore Troy Sneller (Hamilton, Mich./Hamilton), improved upon their season-best time, stopping the clock at 3:08.88 to finish runner-up. In the Olympic Development 3,000-meter steeplechase, fifth-year senior Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) clocked the ninth-best time in the country this season of 8:44.59 to place sixth. [ MGoBlue Recaps: 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.

At this weekend's Penn Relays, Michigan will compete in three different relay events -- the distance medley, the 4x400-meter and 4x800-meter relays.

Among The Big Ten's Best

Several Michigan track and field athletes rank among the top 10 in the Big Ten with just two meets remaining until the conference meet, which will be hosted by the University of Wisconsin from May 11-13.





Justin Clarke (So.)

100m Dash



Craig Forys (R-Sr.)

5,000m Run



Morsi Rayyan (So.)

5,000m Run



Morsi Rayyan (So.)




Zach Ornelas (Jr.)




Mark Beams (R-Fr.)




Ali Arastu (So.)

400m Hurdles



Craig Forys (R-Sr.)

3,000m Steeple



Zach Ornelas (Jr.)

3,000m Steeple



Nick Neuman, Matthew Campbell,

Aaron Taylor, Robert Peddlar

4x100m Relay



Nick Neuman, Ali Arastu,

Aaron Taylor, Michael Parker Jr.

4x400m Relay



Jack Greenlee (Jr.)

Pole Vault

17-1 ft.


Ethan Dennis (R-So.)

Hammer Throw

205-10.50 ft.


Joe Strizich (Sr.)


188-0 ft.



Best of the Best -- Three Michigan athletes rank among the top 25 in the nation in their respective events. Fifth-year senior Craig Forys (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) ranks ninth in the NCAA in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with his time of 8:44.59, which he ran last weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays, and also holds the 24th-best time in the country in the 5,000-meter run with his lifetime-best of 13:52.14. After running a personal-best time of 50.54 in the 400-meter hurdles at the Mt. SAC Relays last weekend, sophomore Ali Arastu (Northville, Mich./Northville) owns the eighth-best time in the country in the 400-meter hurdles. In the hammer throw, junior/sophomore Ethan Dennis' (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville) school-record setting throw of 62.75 meters (205-10.50) ranks 22nd in the NCAA.

Rewriting the Record Book -- Junior/sophomore Ethan Dennis (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grandville) set a new school record in the hammer throw on Friday, April 13, at the Georgia Spec Towns Invitational. His lifetime-best throw of 62.75 meters (205-10.75) broke the previous record of 62.50 meters (204-5) set by Sean Pruitt in 2009. Dennis has already surpassed his season-best throw from 2011 by nearly 10 feet (59.75 meters, 196-0), which he registered at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

Personal Improvement -- Four Michigan athletes set new personal records at the Mt. SAC Relays (April 19-20). After four meets this outdoor season, 17 Wolverines have set new PRs in at least one event, with seven improving in at least two events. During the 2012 indoor season, 36 student-athletes recorded new PRs.

In the Rankings -- Michigan moved up one spot to No. 4 in the fourth Great Lakes Region poll released Tuesday (April 24) by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). U-M is one of six Big Ten schools in the Great Lakes Region, including No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 2 Indiana, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan State and No. 12 Purdue.

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 USC Trojan Invitational (March 23-24) -- 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) also competed for U-M in their first collegiate outdoor meet at USC.

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.


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