U of M Men - In-Season Growth On Display at EMU Fall Classic
Provided by U of M
What You Need to Know
» In U-M's final meet before beginning the championship phase of the season, the Wolverines took four of the top eight places, including a runner-up finish from Keenan Rebera.
» Three in-uniform athletes recorded faster 5K times than what they ran on this same course to begin the 2016 season in September, while six unattached freshmen improved on their early-season marks.
» The Wolverines ran six athletes in-uniform during today's meet, while another eight ran unattached.
• Complete Results
Site: Dexter, Mich. (Hudson Mills Metropark)
Meet: EMU Fall Classic (5,000 meters)
U-M Team Finish: Non-scoring
Top U-M Individual: Keenan Rebera, 2nd place (15:20.8)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, Oct. 30 -- at Big Ten Championships (Minneapolis, Minn.)
DEXTER, Mich. -- The 14th-ranked University of Michigan men's cross country program put its depth and strengthening youth movement on display during Friday's (Oct. 21) EMU Fall Classic hosted by Eastern Michigan University at nearby Hudson Mills Metropark. The 5,000-meter race was a quick one, with five athletes at or below the 15:30 mark, and U-M boasted four of the top eight finishers overall, led by a runner-up showing from sophomore/freshman Keenan Rebera.
Rebera's second-place showing was one of eight top-12 finishes by sophomore or freshman Wolverines, a welcome sign for head coach Kevin Sullivan, who finds value in this meet by using it to motivate his younger athletes.
"Having that competitive depth is really important for us," said Sullivan. "These guys are going to be in high-pressure situations as they start to move up through the team, and so they have to come into every race situation and treat it as if it were a championship race. It's all practice for what we want to do in the future. These guys are really understanding that what they do when they step on the line really matters in how I'm evaluating who travels and who's on the Big Ten squad. That type of competitiveness is really important for this team to continue to get better."
That fiery competitive spirit was evident today, when Rebera and his classmate Kevin Hall jumped out among the early leaders after the gun. Through about 1,000 meters, they were shoulder to shoulder with the race leaders, running in a pack with junior/sophomore Ryan Wilkie and sophomore/freshman Ben Hill while battling a muddy trail following the afternoon's rain.
Michigan State's Brian Kettle and unattached competitor Nick Falk jumped up into the mix, and Falk made a move between 3K and 4K that gave him separation from the chase pack. That move proved to be enough, as he crossed the line in 15:13.9 to take the win with a near-seven-second margin of victory. Still, U-M was able to claim two of the top four spots and four of the top eight. If unattached athletes are included in the Wolverine tally, the Maize and Blue boasted nine of the top 12 and 10 of the top 14 athletes in today's meet.
Sullivan gave credit to Rebera for coming back strong after nursing injuries throughout the last nine months, and he was impressed with Rebera's ability to challenge for today's individual title. He also noted that Kevin Hall continues to improve race after race, saying the Saline, Michigan, native will be a valuable piece for U-M teams in the future.
The majority of Michigan's contributors in today's meet took their times down significantly from where they were at the season-opening Michigan Open on Sept. 2 at this same course. Among those who shaved significant clock off their times were: Hall (15:26.8 from 15:48.1; fourth place), Wilkie (15:33.9 from 16:03.4; seventh place) and Hill (15:37.2 from 15:46; eighth place). A mid-distance specialist, Wilkie's time was more than 25 seconds faster than his best career time at the Metropark, which Sullivan called "a huge, huge breakthrough in terrible conditions."
Among unattached competitors, true freshmen Isaac Harding (15:30.7 from 15:55.0), Anthony Berry (15:33.5 from 16:14.4), Andrew Lorant (15:43.1 from 16:06.3), Jacob Lee (15:45.4 from 15:59.1), Jacob Branch (15:45.5 from 15:55.7) and Joost Plaetinck (16:03.5 from 16:14.7) showed growth over the course of the season and an encouraging fitness level headed into the winter months.
"The freshman guys running unattached ran really well," said Sullivan. "Guys like Isaac (Harding) and (Anthony) Berry, they stepped in and ran really competitively for us, and so did a few others. The future is really bright for the young guys."
The postseason begins one week from Sunday when U-M travels to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to return to the Les Bolstad Golf Course for the Big Ten Championship meet.
Top 10 Individual Finishers
1. Nick Falk, Unattached (15:13.9)
2. KEENAN REBERA, U-M (15:20.8)
3. Brian Kettle, Michigan State (15:24.0)
4. KEVIN HALL, U-M (15:26.8)
5. Isaac Harding, Unattached (15:30.7)
6. Anthony Berry, Unattached (15:33.5)
7. RYAN WILKIE, U-M (15:33.9)
8. BEN HILL, U-M (15:37.2)
9. Jacob Bowman, Unattached (15:38.6)
10. Andrew Lorant, Unattached (15:43.1)
Other U-M Finishers
20. Matthew Plowman (15:58.3)
32. Brennan Munley (16:24.8)
Other Unattached Wolverine Finishers
11. Jacob Lee (15:45.4)
12. Jacob Branch (15:45.5)
14. Alex Moran (15:49.2)
24. Joost Plaetinck (16:03.5)
38. Garrett McPeek (16:31.1)
Communications Contact: Chad Shepard