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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ohio State - Michigan Dual Meet

I just got back from a cold and snowy Ann Arbor, where the Buckeyes reversed their defeat at last year's dual and beat #17 Michigan by a score of 85-77. Results are here.

Thirteen of the seventeen event winners from a year ago returned, making this essentially a rematch. What was the difference between last year and this year? There were several factors.

1. Adam Harris
Michigan's great sprinter/long jumper won three events last year and dominated the meet. This year he was nowhere near as good, running 0.21 seconds slower in the 60, jumping nearly a foot and a half less in the long jump, and was beaten in the 200.

2. Lex Williams
Last year, Michigan's distance star pushed Jeff See to a meet record in the mile and then helped teammate Sean McNamara lead the Wolverines to a sweep of the 3000 meters. Then he got mono and has never been the same since. He didn't run today.

3. Jeff See
The two-time defending Big Ten indoor mile champ won his specialty with relative ease, as expected. Where he's markedly better is in his endurance. A year ago he was never a factor in the 3k, finishing a well-beaten fifth in 8:36.13, obviously wiped out from his effort in the mile. Today he was near the back of the eight-man field for the first 1000 meters, then moved up to just behind the leaders with 800 to go. His last lap was a scorching 26.5, taking him to the finish in a meet-record 8:11, with 1500 splits of approximately 4:11 and 4:00.

4. Stephen Robinson
The junior long sprinter from Trotwood-Madison had his breakout meet. He tied Aaron Payne's 200 meet record of 21.68, nosing out Adam Harris by 0.01, then split 47.7 to anchor the 4x400 relay.

Rating the meet:
Information: 40 meters (out of 100)
You got a free meet program (a single 17x11 sheet doubled over) with meet records and rosters. Results were posted on the scoreboard, as was the team score. An announcer introduced each field and kept us updated, but without him the fan woulds have been totally lost. Heat sheets were nowhere to be found, and those are so easy to make and distribute. Michigan can and must do better.

Facility & amenities: 50 meters (out of 100)
The University of Michigan's athletic department is one steeped in tradition and excellence, a place where a glee club and a letter sweater still aren't out of place. The athletic facilities are old and beautiful...with the notable exception of the Indoor Track Building, a nondescript metal barn. They've done what they can with it; there is enough seating and the scoreboard includes video capabilities. But the concessions were a single bake sale, and the prospective U-M track fan could only buy a shirt or other gear with a well-placed offer to an athlete running by.

Presentation: 130 meters (out of 150)
The U-M track program went out of its way to produce a fan-friendly event. An announcer did a full afternoon's work, and kept us updated on changing positions in the field events in between running events. Another announcer killed down time between events by interviewing winning athletes. There was constant action on the small video scoreboard, and free t-shirts and pizza were given out to the loudest sections of fans. But a dual meet should have dedicated place were the score is always listed, and once again a lack of heats sheets kept this from being a truly first-class affair. On the whole, though, these people showed they care and they understand.

Extras: 40 points (out of 50)
The place was packed, and had Michigan done better it would have been rocking--it certainly was for the hurdles, the only running event the Wolverines dominated. It was a close and competitive meet the whole way through. And it was a dual meet, so you had every athlete plugged in to what everyone else was doing--it looked like the sidelines of a football game when See charged past in the homestretch of the 3k, with guys big and small all in scarlet jumping up and down and whooping it up.

Total Score: 260 meters. Easily worth the 45-minute drive.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Not a very good day for Michigan sports, as the men's basketball team lost to Ohio as well. Also, earlier in the season, the women's team lost big to the Buckeyes. A few weeks before that, the Wolverines got pasted 42-7 in conference football final against, you guessed it... Bad time to be a Michigan fan (which I am).

Harris finished last season very strong, which is why I expected big things for him in this event. He set personal bests several times in the long jump last year, finishing with a 25 4 3/4 mark in the Mideast Regionals. I guess he might still heat up as the season progresses but it was still not his best performance at all.

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