Toeing the Line #6: U-M Men to Begin Postseason Sunday at Big Tens

Toeing the Line #6: U-M Men to Begin Postseason Sunday at Big Tens

Provided by U of M

Sunday, Nov. 2 -- at Big Ten Championships (Iowa City, Iowa), 11:45 a.m. CDT

After placing four individuals in the top 10 at last weekend's EMU Fall Classic (non-scoring), the 14th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country team will return to Iowa City, Iowa, on Sunday (Nov. 2) to begin the championship part of the season with the Big Ten Championships. The 8,000-meter men's race will begin at 11:45 a.m. CDT at the Hawkeyes' Ashton Cross Country Course.

Athletes in Action: Aaron Baumgarten, Micah Beller, Mason Ferlic, Ben Flanagan, George Kelly, August Pappas, Nick Posada, Tony Smoragiewicz and James Yau

Top Returning Times

8,000-Meter Run 10,000-Meter Run

Mason Ferlic 23:35 Mason Ferlic 30:11

Mason Ferlic 23:59 Mason Ferlic 30:32

Tony Smoragiewicz 24:13.40* August Pappas 30:57

Tony Smoragiewicz 24:18 Tony Smoragiewicz 31:00.10*

James Yau 24:23 Ben Flanagan 31:18.8

*Indicates time run in 2012


• The Big Ten Championships will mark U-M's last 8,000-meter race of the season as the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and NCAA Championships jump to a 10,000-meter course.

• The Wolverines ran the Ashton Cross Country Course earlier this year, when they won the Big Ten Preview (Sept. 20) with 19 points behind Mason Ferlic's individual title.

• U-M has won eight Big Ten titles in program history, with its last two coming back to back in 1997 and 1998.

• The Big Ten boasts four nationally ranked programs heading into this year's conference championship weekend, compared to three in 2013 and 2012. This year's ranked teams include: No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 14 Michigan, No. 20 Indiana and No. 22 Michigan State.

• The Wolverines have improved or maintained their placing at the Big Ten Championships each year since 2010, when they finished eighth. The 2011 squad tied for third, while the 2012 and 2013 campaigns ended with runner-up finishes at Big Tens.

• The second-place finishes by the team in 2012 and 2013 marked the program's highest finish at the Big Ten Championships since 2008.

• Michigan has finished in fifth place or better at 22 of the last 24 Big Ten Championships, including three conference titles during that span (1993, '97, '98).

• The Wolverines earned a No. 22 ranking in the USTFCCCA Preseason Coaches' Poll on Aug. 26. It marked the third straight season that U-M was ranked in the top 30. In the latest poll released Oct. 21, the Wolverines check in at No. 14.

• Michigan brings a wealth of experience to this year's championships. Senior/junior Mason Ferlic missed the 2012 championship season due to injury, but he competed as a freshman in 2011 and again last season. Ferlic, classmate August Pappas, junior Tony Smoragiewicz and fifth-year senior James Yau will represent U-M at the Big Ten Championships for the third time, while senior/junior Nick Posada and sophomore Ben Flanagan will compete for the second time.

• This weekend represents the first postseason race for junior/sophomore George Kelly and sophomores/freshmen Aaron Baumgarten and Micah Beller.

• Mason Ferlic has been Michigan's top finisher in each race where its varsity squad has competed this season. Ferlic won the individual titles at the 8K Big Ten Preview (Sept. 20) and 8K Notre Dame Blue and Gold Invitational (Oct. 3) and finished 12th at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational (Oct. 17).

• Last season, U-M earned its first NCAA Great Lakes Regional crown in six years (2007, t-1st), which was also its first outright title since 1997, after finishing runner-up at the Big Ten Championships for the second straight season. Mason Ferlic and August Pappas picked up All-Great Lakes Region honors.

• The Wolverines also qualified for the NCAA Championships as a team for the third consecutive year in 2013, placing 21st.

• U-M has had several runners post collegiate-best marks* in the latter stages of the season, most recently with strong showings at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. Tony Smoragiewicz (24:18), Ben Flanagan (24:26), Aaron Baumgarten (24:32) each finished with career-best times in the 8K event. For Flanagan, it was a four-second improvement over his finishing time at last year's race.

* Times from Michigan's previous event, Notre Dame's Blue and Gold Invitational, are not considered valid at the 8,000-meter distance due to a rain-shortened course.

• Head coach Kevin Sullivan announced that fifth-year senior James Yau, senior/junior Mason Ferlic and sophomore Ben Flanagan would serve as the trio of captains for the 2014 season after a team vote.

• U-M's 2014 roster features 21 returning harriers and seven true freshmen. Among the returners are four runners that were members of the 2013 NCAA Great Lakes Regional champion team.

• Mason Ferlic earned All-America honors in 2013, becoming the first Wolverine to do so since Nate Brannen in 2004. Ferlic was U-M's top-scoring runner in all five meets in which the varsity squad competed, including all three championship events. He was named All-Big Ten second team for his efforts, along with Ben Flanagan.


• In 2014, former All-American Wolverine Kevin Sullivan has taken over at the helm of the U-M program. A four-time Big Ten Athlete of the Year in cross country, Sullivan was also a four-time Big Ten and NCAA Great Lakes Regional champion with the team during his time in Ann Arbor (1993-97). He will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the program, including his four NCAA titles in track and field.

Sullivan hopes to build on a 21st-place finish at the NCAA Championships from last season while continuing U-M's recent success on the conference and regional levels. The Maize and Blue has finished top-two at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and Big Ten Championship meets in each of the past two seasons.


Coach Sullivan Kevin Sullivan

Head Coach

On improvements and progress since August ... "Just in general, we've seen improvement across the board from most of the team, especially the nine that we are taking to Big Tens. We've seen really good progress from some of the longer aerobic work that we did earlier in the season to now, transitioning into a little bit quicker, snappier work. We're seeing some really good results and workouts. We've got a lot of good work groups, where we've got that guys that are able to work together well. Overall it's been really productive over the last couple months."

On balancing experienced runners and first-timers in the championship season ... "I think a lot of it comes down to this: we have good leaders on our team. So the guys that have been here -- Mason, Tony, Yau, Posada, August -- they really lead by example. So without me having to vocalize a whole lot about how to approach practice and taking care of themselves outside of practice, our guys that have been on the team for the last two or three years are instilling that in the younger guys as the season goes on."

On where the team might see differences in Ashton Cross Country Course from September to now ... "We won't know for sure until we get there, and part of it is going to depend on how wet or dry it's been for the last little while in Iowa. I'd imagine it's going to run relatively quick again, but I don't think the course will have changed all that much, really. It was a little soft last time we were out there and I think it's going to run quicker this time around."


Friday, Nov. 14 -- at NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Madison, Wis.), Noon CDT

Saturday, Nov. 22 -- at NCAA Championships (Terre Haute, Ind.), Noon

Communications Contact: Chad Shepard