Toeing the Line #4: Notre Dame Invite Up Next for Wolverine Men

Toeing the Line #4: Notre Dame Invite Up Next for Wolverine Men

Provided by U of M

Sept. 25, 2012

Friday, Sept. 28 -- at Notre Dame Invitational (South Bend, Ind.), 5 p.m.

The 26th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team will travel to South Bend, Ind., to compete in the Notre Dame Invitational on Friday (Sept. 28). The 8,000-meter Men's Blue Race will begin at 5 p.m. at the Notre Dame Golf Course.

Wolverines in Action 
Nine Wolverines will compete for Michigan at the Notre Dame Invitational -- Brendon BlacklawsTrevor DentonScott DvorakJustin KraussAlex MoranDallas NorthMatt PopielarzJeff Sattler and James Yau.

Top Career Times
8,000-Meter Run10,000-Meter Run
Brendon Blacklaws24:26.00Brendon Blacklaws30:50.50
Mason Ferlic24:28.50Zach Ornelas30:55.30
Mark Beams24:31.30Mark Beams31:02.60
Morsi Rayyan24:32.00Morsi Rayyan31:08.10
Dan Lowry24:34.00Mason Ferlic31:43.60

Season Debut -- Senior/junior Brendon Blacklaws (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College) will make his season debut at the Notre Dame Invitational. Blacklaws earned All-Great Lakes Region honors last season and was an All-Big Ten second teamer in 2009.

Notre Dame Familiar Territory -- The Wolverines competed in the Notre Dame Invite each season from 2005-08, with the best finish coming in 2006 (third). Prior to not competing at the Irish event in 2004, U-M placed second in 2003 and 2002 and won a share of the team title in 1999.

Last Time on the Course -- The Wolverines finished fourth in a 10-team field in their first scored meet of the season at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational (Sept. 22). Each of Michigan's five scorers finished within the top 25 to tally 75 points. In his season debut, sophomore Mason Ferlic (St. Paul, Minn./Mounds Park Academy) paced U-M to the finish line, taking sixth place. He ran a career-best 8,000-meter time of 24:28.50 and was the only underclassmen to finish in the top 10. For his effort, Ferlic garnered the Big Ten's Athlete of the Week award.

Against Ranked Opponents -- No. 21 Michigan faced its first ranked opponents of the season at Virginia, including No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 22 Arkansas, which finished first and second, respectively. Virginia, which received votes in last week's USTFCCCA poll, secured the third spot as a team. Mason Ferlic was the only Michigan runner to finish within Oklahoma's scoring group.

Michigan Debuts -- Four Wolverines sported the Maize and Blue uniform for the first time at Virginia. Freshman Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D./Hamilton) was just one spot shy of scoring for U-M as the Wolverines' sixth man, placing 33rd overall. Sophomore/freshman August Pappas (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea), who redshirted during cross country last year, finished 62nd, while freshman Alex Moran (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) took 67th. Senior transfer Dan Lowry(Philadelphia, Pa./ La Salle College) also sported the Block M for the first time in his career, recording a 15th-place finish. Lowry was leading the race at the 5K mark, but an unfortunate fall knocked him back in the pack.

The Veterans -- Four of Michigan's five scorers at Virginia were members of its NCAA squad from last season, including junior Mark Beams (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg), 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). Senior transferDan Lowry (Philadelphia, Pa./ La Salle College) was the Wolverines' other scorer but is no stranger to competing at a high level, as he was an All-American last season at Brown University. 

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. Gibby wasted no time taking the program to the next level as the Wolverines made drastic improvements from year one to year two. 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.

In the Rear View Mirror -- Last season, Michigan 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 five spots to No. 26 in the NCAA Division I cross country poll, released Tuesday (Sept. 25) by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The Wolverines have appeared in the top 30 in each of the first three polls. In 2011, U-M did not crack the top 30 until the third regular season poll, where they were ranked No. 28. U-M remained No. 4 in the Great Lakes Region poll. Big Ten Conference opponents Wisconsin and Indiana own the first two spots in the regional poll, respectively.

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

Friday, Oct. 12 -- at Wisconsin adidas Invitational (Madison, Wis.), 12:45 p.m. CDT
Friday, Oct. 19 -- at EMU Fall Classic (Dexter, Mich.), 5 p.m.

Contact: Whitney Dixon