U of M Men - Smoragiewicz Qualifies in 5K as U-M Closes NCAA Prelims
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What You Need to Know
» In the last individual race of the weekend, Tony Smoragiewicz punched his ticket to Eugene in the 5,000-meter run, placing fifth in his heat in 14:12.55 for 11th overall after entering the weekend seeded 31st.
» Michigan qualified four additional entries to the national meet this weekend: Taylor McLaughlin (400-meter hurdles), Mason Ferlic (3,000-meter steeplechase), Ben Flanagan (10,000 meters) and Joe Ellis (hammer).
» McLaughlin is Michigan's first true freshman NCAA qualifier since Mike Woods qualified for the 1,500-meter run in 2005.
» Those athletes mentioned above will join decathlete Steven Bastien at the University of Oregon for the meet scheduled Wednesday and Friday (June 8 and 10).
» The six entries for U-M this year are a three-year high under head coach Jerry Clayton and the most since 2007 (11).
» The top 12 athletes in respective events from the NCAA East and NCAA West Preliminary Rounds will now meet at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
• Complete Results PDF | NCAA East Preliminary Round Home
Site: Jacksonville, Fla. (Hodges Stadium)
Event: NCAA East Region Preliminary Rounds (Day 3)
U-M Team Result: Non-scoring
Next U-M Event: Thursday and Saturday, June 9 and 11 -- at NCAA Outdoor Championships (Eugene, Ore.)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The University of Michigan men's track and field team closed competition at the NCAA East Region Preliminary Rounds on Saturday (May 28), with senior/junior Tony Smoragiewicz punching one final ticket in the 5,000-meter run at the University of North Florida's Hodges Stadium.
U-M's six total entries for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in two weekends (June 8 and 10) mark the program's most since 2007, another sign of the progress the program has made under head coach Jerry Clayton, now in his third season at the helm. The Maize and Blue will have athletes competing across multiple disciplines, striking a balance that Clayton has made the team's focus since he took over.
"We really made a big step at the conference level this year, scoring in 15 of the 21 events, and now we move on to nationals with representation in all three event areas (sprints, distance and field events)," said Clayton.
"We want to stay strong in the areas we are already strong in, and hopefully we continue to get batter in the other areas as well, but what we are seeing is a more complete track and field program in addition to the success we've had with our cross country program. Historically across the 150 years of Michigan Athletics, we have had that balance, but we were without that for a short time. We are regaining momentum, and we are well on our way to being a total track and field and cross country program again, because that's the tradition of Michigan."
At 5,000 meters, U-M had three athletes in the race. Junior/sophomore Micah Beller got out well early, moving quickly into the top six, and Smoragiewicz and junior/sophomore Aaron Baumgarten swiftly began making their way towards the leaders. With nine laps remaining, all three Wolverines moved to the front of the pack, running 1-2-3 in an effort to pick up the pace.
That strung out the field, and as new leaders took charge, Smoragieiwcz and Baumgarten ran 4-5 into the bell lap. Smoragiewicz held on, taking fifth place (11th overall) to secure the final automatic-qualifying spot in 14:12.55, and Baumgarten finished sixth, 3.15 seconds shy of earning the last at-large spot in the field. That earned him a 15th-place finish overall, after entering the weekend as the No. 26 seed.
For Smoragiewicz, this will mark his first bid to the national meet, and he certainly earned it after entering the weekend seeded 31st. He spoke after the race on his approach to tonight's event.
"I knew I had a shot to qualify, but it was a long one," said Smoragiewicz. "The only thing I focused on was staying in the top seven until a move was made, and from there on out it was about staying tough. Luckily I was able to hold on to top five in the home stretch, and now that I'm going to nationals it seems surreal. It was more of a dream than a goal going into the season, so my hat goes off to Sully (Kevin Sullivan) and our great staff for preparing me for this amazing opportunity."
Clayton was happy to see so many athletes outperforming their seeds this weekend, and that continued in tonight's distance event.
"Tony, Aaron and Micah really stepped up today, but especially Tony and Aaron because they finished a lot higher than they were seeded," he said. "Having Tony advancing to nationals is really great. When you look overall at what's gone on with our distance program at the conference level, scoring in every distance event outdoors, every middle-distance and distance event indoors and winning the cross country championship in the fall, it's clear that continues to be a strength for us. Now we have representation in all three of the long distance events (steeple, 5K, 10K) and coach Kevin Sullivan has done a great job bringing everyone along."
In the 4x400-meter relay, the Maize and Blue was represented by senior/junior Nate Chapman, senior Phil Washington III, sophomore Brennan Munley and freshman Taylor McLaughlin, who already qualified individually in the 400-meter hurdles. The Maize and Blue timed 3:10.72.
Speaking on the weekend's freshman qualifiers (McLaughlin and Joe Ellis), Clayton knows there is plenty of reason for optimism. He credited both athletes with showing a competitive fire this weekend.
"(Joe) is definitely finding his rhythm," said Clayton. "He finished his last throw well on Friday, and he can still be better, but the key is that he went in and competed, and we like to see that, especially out of a freshman."
As for McLaughlin, his career is an impressively decorated one already in just his first year on campus.
"Coach Steve Rajewsky has really done a great job with Taylor," said Clayton, "and Taylor has done a great job of listening and buying into what Coach has been doing with him. When you have that combination you're always going to be successful, and the competitiveness he showed and the way he's come through at this meet and the conference meet has us really excited for his future."
The Wolverines will now begin preparations for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, scheduled for Thursday and Saturday, June 9 and 11 at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Communications Contact: Chad Shepard