U of M - Riffle Headed Back to Eugene; Ferlic Gets Regional Runner-Up in 5K

U of M - Riffle Headed Back to Eugene; Ferlic Gets Regional Runner-Up in 5K

Provided by U of M

Site: Jacksonville, Fla. (Hodges Stadium)

Event: NCAA East Preliminary Rounds (Day 3)

U-M Team Result: Non-scoring

Next U-M Event: Wed-Sat., June 10-13 -- at NCAA Outdoor Championships (Eugene, Ore.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The University of Michigan men's track and field team secured its third and final athlete to compete in Eugene, Oregon, for next month's (June 10-13) NCAA Outdoor Championships with a dramatic shot put performance from fifth-year senior Cody Riffle today (Saturday, May 30) at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds at Hodges Stadium. U-M also added a second bid for senior/junior co-captain Mason Ferlic .

Riffle finished in ninth place, launching a throw of 62-3.25 ft.(18.98m) on his second attempt of the afternoon to win the third of four flights. Coming off his lifetime-best throw at the Big Ten meet (May 17), Riffle was seeded 13th in the event, projected to just miss the cut to head west. Instead, he surged to the top 10 in a region that held eight of the top nine throws in the nation heading into the weekend. He has now punched his ticket to Eugene for the second time as a Wolverine.

Senior/junior Derek Sievers also threw in the shot. After his initial throw went 59-1.5 ft. (18.02m), Sievers looked to be in good position to build on his first attempt. His second throw did not match his first and knowing the steep competition around him, Sievers laid it all out on the line with his final throw, but he fouled and was ultimately unable to advance.

After both fifth-year senior Morsi Rayyan (10K) and Ferlic (3,000m steeplechase) locked up bids to Eugene earlier this weekend, the duo competed in this evening's 5K race, finishing a grueling distance weekend. Rayyan finished 14:32.11, and Ferlic double-punched his ticket out west, running 13:57.88 to finish runner-up to Penn's Thomas Awad and finishing just .48 seconds behind the Quaker junior.

After a tight bunch came out through the first couple thousand meters, Ferlic and Awad were among those who pushed the pace to break off from the masses. Six runners pushed out front, separating themselves by about 25 meters before adding to their lead over the final several laps.

Ferlic's kick was very impressive, especially considering he qualified in the steeplechase less than 24 hours before the gun of the 5K, and he held off Notre Dame's Michael Clevenger down the stretch. Clevenger finished in 13:58.46, but Ferlic's legs were too strong for him to be caught.

U-M's season continues with three total athletes -- Rayyan, Ferlic and Riffle -- headed out west to the NCAA Outdoor Championships (June 10-13) hosted by the University of Oregon in Eugene.


• Fifth-year senior co-captain Cody Riffle and senior/junior Derek Sievers ended their season-long battle in the shot put today, with Riffle advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships next month (June 10-13), throwing 62-3.25 ft. (18.98m) to finish ninth in the region.

• After setting the program record during the indoor season at 63-11.75 ft. (19.50m), Derek Sievers also owned the outdoor record at the beginning of the season, before it was broken by Riffle in at the Virginia Challenge (62-0.5 ft; 18.91m). At the Big Ten Championships (May 17), Riffle launched a lifetime-best throw of 63-7.5 ft. (19.39m) to push the bar even farther. Together, the duo owns the No. 1 and 2 throws on U-M's all-time performance list.

• The east region owned 10 of the top 12 marks in the shot heading into the weekend, including eight of the top nine overall, placing Cody Riffle and Derek Sievers in a loaded field, seeded 13th and 19th in the east region, respectively. Riffle outperformed his seed significantly to finish ninth and secure his place out west.

• With his runner-up finish in this evening's 5K, Mason Ferlic has double-punched his ticket to Eugene. Ferlic ran 13:57.88 less than 24 hours after securing his place in the national field in the 3,000m steeplechase with a runner-up finish in that event.

• Mason Ferlic has the opportunity to become U-M's first All-American in both the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 5,000-meter run since John Mortimer in 1998, also the last time any Wolverine achieved the honor in more than one event during the same season.

• With the weekend over, Michigan has solidified that three athletes across four events will compete in Eugene, Oregon, next month at the NCAA Outdoor Championships (June 10-13). Mason Ferlic will compete in both the 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m run; Morsi Rayyan will compete in the 10,000m run; and Cody Riffle will compete in the shot put.


Michigan Head Coach Jerry Clayton

On Cody Riffle advancing from a deep shot put field to compete in Oregon next month ... "The shot put was definitely a very, very deep field here. The east has been very strong traditionally in the shot put, as the Big Ten Conference has been. He is used to that type of level of competition because the Big Ten meet prepares you for this meet. I had a feeling that even if he could win his flight he would have a pretty good chance of advancing on, which he did and it ended up that there were two guys out of that flight. Outstanding job by Cody. He has really come on this last month of the season and come into his own."

On a very impressive weekend from the distance group, Mason Ferlic in particular ... "Mason has done an outstanding job. He has always been the leader of that group, and he and Coach Sullivan have really meshed well in terms of their thoughts on what they are trying to accomplish in these races and in what they have been trying to accomplish throughout these three seasons. That is what you have to do if you want to be a successful distance runner. They have done an outstanding job with that, and we still have one more chapter in that story but it should finish pretty strong with the way he looks here."

On the veteran leadership of distance runners Morsi Rayyan and Mark Beams ... "Morsi had some problems in the summer with a couple of accidents unrelated to athletics. He came back from those, and not having cross country eligibility for he and Mark (Beams) kind of made things different for them. Those guys were able to put things together, and I commend them both. Mark has done an exceptional job for us. We had hoped he would advance on, but he has been a great leader from the time I have been here over the last two years. Those three (Rayyan, Beams, Ferlic) have really contributed a lot to making this transition easier with the distance group in particular."

On Coach Steve Rajewsky bringing three 100m sprinters to this meet, and the valuable experience for sophomore/freshman Khoury Crenshaw ... "If you look at the meet as a whole, most of our athletes came in higher here than where they were ranked, and that is the first goal. That is what you have to look at -- the things you did accomplish and the things you have control over; that's what I try to tell the athletes in these meets. We really got the job done in a lot of those areas. It is tremendous to have three guys in the 100m dash. I do not think Michigan has ever had that in this meet, and hopefully that is going to set the tone for the future of our program."

U-M Fifth-Year Senior Co-Captain Cody Riffle

On competing in a very deep shot put field this weekend and the opportunity to compete in Eugene once more ... "Any time you get to the national meet, it is an achievement, regardless of the field. I knew it was going to be tough, but I knew if I threw what I have been able to do then I could get there, even though I was seeded out of the top 12. I knew I could still do it. It ended up going really well; I knew if I just stuck to my plan I would be able to get it done and that's what happened."

On his 18.98m throw and how his three attempts felt ... "On my first throw I was a bit conservative. I tried to go hard but I felt a little too conservative. On my second throw someone in the fourth flight (next to me) threw really far, so the crowd was going crazy, and I used that to try and get me going. That chaos got me fired up. My second throw is usually pretty good, so I wanted to get one out there. It didn't really feel a lot better, it was just much faster. Coach (Clayton) told me before that throw to just do what I did the first time exactly the same, but just move the left side of my throw a lot faster. I did and it ended up working out pretty well."

On his final meet competing alongside fellow shot putter Derek Sievers, who returns with another year of eligibility for 2016, but was unable to advance with Riffle to NCAA Outdoors ... "Competing with someone who is that competitive themselves, especially in your event group, always makes you that much better. This year the both of us stand as a testament to that. We both had success throughout the year, and it has been great to have that, because a lot of teams won't have that, especially with an event group. That is definitely one of the reasons why we have both been so successful this year and I hope that in the future after I leave there will be similar dynamics that can help each athlete progressing to their own goals. That is really fundamental to success and I am happy that we were able to have that all season."

Communications Contact: Chad Shepard