U of M Men - DMR Breaks School Record at Alex Wilson
Provided by U of M
What You Need to Know
» The Maize and Blue set a new program best in the DMR, running 9:27.67 to break the record held for a dozen years by 2004 national champions Nate Brannen, DarNell Talbert, Andrew Ellerton and Nick Willis.
» U-M's relay broke down as: Chase Barnett (2:56.9; 1,200 meters), Brennan Munley (1:47.3; 800 meters), Phil Washington III (47.5; 400 meters) and Mason Ferlic (3:55.8; Mile).
» Michigan now charges into the championship season with the Big Ten Championships next weekend (Feb. 26-27).
• Complete Results PDF
Site: South Bend, Ind. (Loftus Sports Center)
Event: Alex Wilson Invitational
U-M Team Result: Non-scoring
Next U-M Event: Fri-Sat., Feb. 26-27 -- at Big Ten Championships (Geneva, Ohio), 10 a.m.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The University of Michigan men's track and field team closed the regular season of the indoor campaign with a day of competition at Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational on Saturday (Feb. 20), highlighted by a new program record in the distance medley relay (DMR) at the Loftus Sports Center.
The main focus of this weekend was to give the DMR squad a chance at hitting a national qualifying mark and to say that the group seized the opportunity would be an understatement.
"We have wanted to get that relay going the last two years and it hasn't happened for one reason or another," said Clayton.
"This year it really has been a focus and this was the meet to do it. We had a plan to set it up for this weekend and that was the focus right there. All four of those guys did an outstanding job, and it's a credit to them and Coach Sullivan and really illustrates the way he is getting them prepared for the Championship phase of the season."
The record-setting performance was unexpected for the group of Wolverines that pulled off the feat.
"I don't know where that time came from," said senior Mason Ferlic, who said that the relay team entered the day thinking a time around 9:30 would prove for a good weekend.
"I think the track was short or something, but it feels unbelievable," he later joked.
"With the great distance program and the great history we have at Michigan, to be part of that in a role beyond just being someone who's on the team is pretty special," added sophomore/freshman Chase Barnett.
The DMR team of Barnett, sophomore Brennan Munley, senior Phil Washington III and Ferlic shaved a tenth of a second off the fastest program mark to date, set at the 2004 NCAA Championships by a group of historic Michigan athletes, two of whom are now U-M Track and Field Hall of Famers. That group went on to defend its national championship with a repeat in 2005.
Not only did today's Wolverine foursome record the fastest individual splits of their careers, but according to Flotrack, their finish ranks as the No. 11 all-time/all-aonditions time in DMR history, one of six top-12 times set this indoor season.
Their collective mark ranks No. 5 in the NCAA so far this year, ensuring a spot for the Maize and Blue at the NCAA Championships next month (March 11-12).
A 2:56.9 opening split from Barnett was followed up by Washington's 400 leg.
"I kicked a little bit early, and I just wanted it so bad," said Washington.
"I just really wanted to give it my all, and I definitely learned a lot today. I kicked a little early and still came through strong in the race so I was happy. Hopefully, everything I've learned will show in the conference meet."
Finding a place on Michigan's record board is especially meaningful for Washington, a senior who has overcome injuries in recent seasons.
"I can't even put that into words," he said.
"It's like we say at Michigan, 'Those Who Stay Will be Champions'. I wouldn't give back all that hard work my teammates and I have been putting in for the world. With the injuries and redshirts (I have dealt with) in the last few years, it feels good to finally contribute."
Munley turned on the gas during the 800 leg, clocking 1:47 to hand the baton to Ferlic with a chance for Michigan's fifth-year senior co-captain to make a move. Even through three of the race's four legs, U-M was not aware of its historic pacing.
"We had no idea the whole time what pace we were actually running and how fast (the rest of the field) was going," said Munley.
"We saw the end of Mason's leg and looked at the time, and that's when we knew that this would be something special."
Even Ferlic was not optimistic about the group's chances.
"When I hit 800 (meters), I had quite a bit of self doubt," said Ferlic.
"Sully yelled out '1:57' (as the half-mile split), and that's way faster than I've ever gotten out for a mile. Plus, I was already in a tough spot physically, still in the gap, kind of in the middle of no man's land. At the 800 split, I wasn't sure how well it would go, but I ignored that and focused on the next lap and focused on closing that gap."
"I ended up finding a good rhythm and that gap was just getting smaller and smaller. With almost 400 to go, I had kind of gotten onto the lead pack with three other guys and at that point I just had some momentum rolling. That was when I started to get a little bit excited because I had gotten to 1,200, and I still felt in control. Coming down the home stretch, I had my legs under me, and it was probably one of the best kicks I've had all season."
The record means a great deal to Ferlic and his teammates, who marvel at the accomplishments of the four men who set that time in 2004. In fact, the group was even reminded of the untouchable nature of this record before this afternoon's competition.
"Before we raced, someone had pointed out that there were (individual) national champions and that there were two or three Olympians on that DMR team, saying that the record would never be broken at Michigan," said Ferlic.
"We came out here just trying to qualify for NCAAs, hoping to run 9:30 or 9:31, so to run 9:27.67 and be in that company really hasn't sunk in yet."
Sullivan, Clayton and assistant coach Steven Rajewsky have made the DMR a priority since taking over at Michigan. Their goal has been to restore the tradition of U-M excellence in the race, and today's record signifies a momentous step towards that direction.
"It's one thing to hit your qualifying mark for nationals and it's another to set a school record," said Clayton.
Clayton noted that in all his previous stops in his more than three decades in coaching, it was always understood that Michigan would have a competitive DMR team at the national meet.
"We kind of fell out of that, and when I came back here we really wanted to bring that back," he said.
"I'm so excited for that group and for Coach Sullivan but especially for the Block M because now we have that DMR that can run again and represent us at the NCAA meet."
Freshman Blake Washington timed a lifetime-best run in the 400-meter dash, breaking 49 seconds for the first time this season with a 48.75-second finish.
U-M will now ready itself for the Big Ten Championships next weekend (Feb. 26-27) at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
COLLEGIATE PERSONAL BESTS
Blake Washington -- 48.751
Garrett McPeek -- 1:54.89
Jonny Phillips -- 8:22.22
Distance Medley Relay
Barnett, Washington III, Munley, Ferlic -- 9:27.67^
^ = School Record
Communications Contact: Chad Shepard