The Wolverine

June-July 2013 - Wolverine

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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  big ten championships: men's track team standings with one day left, and pride became the focal point. Michigan was able to double its team score on the final day of competition, headlined by junior Ali Arastu's second-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles. However, the Wolverines had fallen too far behind the rest of the pack, ending the league meet with a disheartening 36 points for 10th place. "Many things didn't go well," LaPlante said. "I tried to tell the team early that no one really wants to listen to why you didn't get things done. Any explanation you have sounds like an excuse. We said we weren't going to make excuses at any time, and we didn't." There were a handful of injuries on a relay team, and senior sprinter Matt Campbell tore his Achilles, but that shouldn't be the determining factor to the team meet and LaPlante knew it. "Certainly, we thought we had a team that was competitive. You have to do it on that day, though — that's how our sport is," he said. "Our season seemed to go well, and we thought we could be a factor. Just didn't happen on the right day for us. We're disappointed." In scoring events this season, Michigan took ninth at Big Ten Indoor Championships and did not score at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The NCAA Outdoor Championships lies ahead of them, but the Maize and Blue have been floundering, their finishes pinpointing a larger, more troubling, trend the last few seasons. In 2009, LaPlante's first season at the helm, U‑M took second (indoors) and third (outdoors), but since then, the team has finished eighth, 10th, ninth, ninth, 10th, ninth, and now ninth and 10th again at the Big Ten Indoor or Outdoor Championships. Michigan has been stuck spinning its wheels, and hasn't been able to get a consistent team performance when it counts. It's difficult when such a tradition-rich program struggles, but perhaps the key may be LaPlante's ability to elicit more outstanding efforts — like Reichenbach's — out of his future stars. "We've got some guys on the team right now that are solid, and a very good recruiting class coming in," he said. "One guy who is returning who can break the bad chain and get us going is Arastu. I think he's capable of being an NCAA finalist, he's world ranked, he's very, very good. "Junior throwers Ethan Dennis and Cody Riffle are on the brink of being on the next level. They both got to the indoor NCAA meet. "We had a number of guys at Big Tens who finished ninth or 10th. You're a few spots away from getting points [in the top eight]. Across the board, we've got broad-based athletes, and things can change quickly. "It's not totally unusual to go from the bottom to the top of the conference. We're hopeful that we'll turn the tide and get this thing where we need it to be." — Geoff Chiles

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