Monday, July 6, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
MEN'S TRACK AND FIELD
Final race brings senior back to beginning
unlikely success at
U.S. Olympic Trials
By FELIX CARREON .
Daily Sports Writer
Last year, then-redshirt junior
Dan Harmsen sat in the stands,
eagerly taking in the action of the
2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
But this year Harmsen was in
the middle of the action, compet-
ing against some of the very same
athletes he watched a year ago at
the U.S. Track and Field Nationals,
June 25 - 28.
Harmsen finished 17th in the
preliminaries of the 400-meter
hurdles at the historic Hayward
Field in Eugene, Ore.
"It was a once in a lifetime
opportunity," Harmsen said. "It
was so cool to be there with the
best athletes, not only in the nation
but the world."
Racing against NCAA champion
Jeshua Anderson of Washington
State University and runner-up
Johnny Dutch of South Carolina,
Harmsen had to quickly adapt to
the faster pace. Through five hur-
dles, he was among the leaders,
but a technical error led to a loss
of momentum and a lost spot in the
As Harmsen was heading into
the final 100 meters, he cleared
the eighth hurdle but was forced to
change his step pattern. The slip-
up caused him to hurdle with his
non-dominant leg and lose some
ground on the field, finishing sixth
in the heat.
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But Harmsen's journey to
Eugene began long before he
arrived in Ann Arbor.
In 6th grade, Harmsen traveled
to the University of Washington
to compete in the U.S. National
Junior Olympics - an experience
he shared with his father, Mark
Harmsen, who competed for the
Michigan track and cross country
The elder Harmsen videotaped
not only his son's performance in
the race but everything from his
entrance into the stadium to his
pre-race warmups. Harmsen com-
peted in the pentathlon - which
consists of the 100-meter hurdles,
shot-put, high jump, long jump and
1500-meter run - all at the age of
The meet provided him with his
first taste of the national track and
And as he did 10 years ago, Mark
Harmsen took in every moment
as he watched his son compete in
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what would be his final race at the the 2005 U.S. Junior Champion-
U.S. Nationals last month. ships. He finished eighth in the
"Itwasmore emotional forhim," event but the exposure at the pre-
Dan Harmsen said. "It hasn't real- - mier meet would jump-start his
ly hit me that I'm never going to be success in the Big Ten.
running track again." Harmsen's performances cul-
Harmsen will leave the Univer- minated in an amazing final year
sity with honors ranging from Big with the Wolverines. He earned
Ten champion to All-American in himself a trip to Fayetteville, Ark.
the 4x400-meter relay. for the NCAA Championships
But five years earlier, Harmsen with a season-best performance
was in the same place, with abelief in the 400-meter hurdles at the
that his career was over: NCAA Mideast Regional (50.59),
"We weren't certain he was which was also a strong enough
going to make the team when he time to qualify him for the U.S.
came here," Michigan coach Fred Nationals.
LaPlante said. And for a coach who didn't think
After Harmsen redshirted his Harmsen would be on his roster,
freshmen year, he continued to the marquee meet was a chance
work hard despite the level of tal- for the fifth-year senior to end his
ent the Wolverines had in the 400- collegiate career with a couple of
meter hurdles. high notes.
His efforts during his first took "It's a nice ring to culminate
him to the west coast once again. his career," LaPlante said. "I don't
This time the destination was Car- think he intended on running after
son, Calif., where he earned a spot this, so his last race was the big-
in the 400-meter hurdles final at gest race in America.
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