Toeing the Line #9: U-M Men to Wrap Season at NCAA Championships

Toeing the Line #9: U-M Men to Wrap Season at NCAA Championships

Provided by U of M

Nov. 13, 2012

Saturday, Nov. 17 
-- at NCAA Championships (Louisville, Ky.), 1:15 p.m.
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Race Day Information: Meet Central 

The 13th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team will conclude the championship portion of its season at the NCAA Championships, which will be hosted by Louisville on Saturday (Nov. 17) at 1:15 p.m. The race at E.P. 'Tom' Sawyer State Park will mark the Wolverines' second 10,000-meter race of the season.

Wolverines in Action
Eight Wolverines will make up Michigan's regional squad -- Brendon BlacklawsMark BeamsDan LowryZach OrnelasAugust PappasMorsi RayyanTony Smoragiewiczand James Yau. The top five finishers will count toward U-M's team score and the top 40 overall finishers will earn All-America honors.


• The championship field features 31 teams, including the top two teams from each of the nine regions around the country, as well as 13 additional teams that earned an at-large bid. An additional 39 runners also qualified individually by recording the four highest finishes on teams that did not qualify at their respective regional meet. [ Championship Field ]

• Four Big Ten teams will represent the conference at the NCAA Championships, including the defending national champion in No. 4 Wisconsin, as well as No. 13 Michigan, No. 24 Indiana and No. 30 Michigan State.

• Last season, Michigan finished 20th in its first appearance at the NCAA Championships since 2008. U-M's 20th-place finish was its highest since 2003 when the Wolverines placed ninth.

• The top 40 individual finishers at the NCAA Championships earn All-America honors. Michigan's last All-American wasNate Brannen in 2004.

• Four members of this year's national squad competed for the Wolverines at the 2011 NCAA Championships -- juniorMark Beams, senior/junior Brendon Blacklaws, senior Zach Ornelas and junior Morsi Rayyan.

• U-M has been ranked in the top 30 in each USTFCCCA Division I National Coaches poll this season.


 Tony Smoragiewicz 
Rapid City, S.D.

On his adjustment to racing at longer distances ... "It took a while to get adjusted from high school, where we ran the 5K. I didn't really feel like I got adjusted until I ran at Big Tens. I felt that was my first race where I really got a hold of the 8K. I haven't run a 10K yet, but from the workouts we're getting from Coach Gibby, it seems like our team is more suited to that, so I think I'll be fine for nationals on Saturday. Overall, it's been a fairly smooth transition from high school until now."

On his triathlon experience benefitting him ... "I don't think I would have adjusted as quickly if I had only done running in high school. All the triathlons, duration-wise, are an 8K or 10K, so I think that helped in the long term."

On sitting out the regional after competing at the Junior World Triathlon Championships ... "From what I heard from other athletes on the team and other athletes that have run collegiately, the 5K to the 8K seems like the biggest jump, but the 8K to the 10K is nothing to be afraid of. We're fresher at the end of the season so an extra 2K isn't a whole lot. I think I'll be fine for that and I think it definitely helped sitting out the regional, so I was able to catch up on some homework and get some extra rest."

On the opportunity to represent U-M as a freshman ... "It's been awesome. All the support I've gotten from the faculty at Michigan is awesome. It's awesome to put on the jersey every time you go out there and race. It's fun going on planes for some of our trips and just hanging out with the team. It's all been a great experience."

On getting everything together in the final race of the season ... "Coach Gibby doesn't like talking about the race plan too early. He doesn't want us to be focused on the race until it's actually time to run. I think if we run together as a team and stay fairly connected throughout the race, we could have a pretty good showing and definitely beat our performance from last year."

Michigan finished runner up at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Nov. 9) -- its best finish since 2008 -- to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. The Wolverines' five scorers each finished in the top 25 to earn All-Great Lakes Region honors. Senior Dan Lowry (Philadelphia, Pa./La Salle College) was U-M's top finisher in third place. Junior Mark Beams (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg) and senior/junior Brendon Blacklaws (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College)finished 13th and 14th, respectively, while junior Morsi Rayyan (Dewitt, Mich./St. Johns) placed 19th and senior Zach Ornelas (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge) took 24th.

Contact: Whitney Dixon