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Wolverines shine at Silverston Invitational

BY KYLE SAUKAS
For the Daily
Published February 19, 2012

Sophomore Kiley Tobel made history yet again on Saturday, setting the Michigan women’s pole-vault record for the second time this season. It was just one bright spot among many highlights that the women’s track and field team produced at its final indoor home meet of the season.

At the annual Silverston Invitational in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines had many of their best athletes resting in anticipation of the Big Ten Indoor Championships, but that didn’t stop the team from capturing four first-place finishes and a handful of personal and school records.

Tobel knew her new record of 13 feet, 10.50 inches was a major achievement, and she hopes it is a sign of even better things to come.

“It was really exciting, and I'm definitely excited I got this jump in before next week — it got the confidence up. I'm ready to go,” Tobel said. “Things are really coming together … and it's just a really good atmosphere.”

Looking forward to her next competition, Tobel knows that she has to keep her expectations high in order to reach her next goal of 14 feet, one-inch.

“It definitely leaves something to be achieved, leaves more to be wanted,” Tobel said. “The second you are satisfied, you are no longer motivated, so I'm definitely still motivated.”

With her new goal in mind, Tobel is preparing herself for a big performance next week, which would be key to the team’s success at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.

“I'll get a little nervous, but it'll be good nerves,” Tobel said. “My confidence is up, and I'm ready to go. I just have to stay positive and do what I know I can do because I've been training for this all year.”

Freshman Victoria Wesley also broke her own personal record in the pole vault, at 12 feet, 10.75 inches.

“I should have got the next height ... but I feel good about it,” Wesley said. “I’m glad that I’m finally getting better.”

On the track, freshman Chinyere Onimo, senior Shelby Hines, freshman Chelsey Miller and junior Ada Unachukwu won the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 4:01.81. Senior Mary Grace Pellegrini also ran a personal best of 4:57.31 in the mile run, coming in third place.

The Wolverine shot put duo of fifth-year senior Allison Liske and fifth-year senior captain Emily Pendleton took home second-and third-place finishes with throws of 15.16 meters and 14.99 meters, respectively.

Michigan coach James Henry was excited for Saturday for many reasons, but most importantly, he saw it as a chance for many of his younger athletes to work toward their prime. It was also a valuable day since it allowed his key performers to rest as the team winds down from long and arduous season and gave his field athletes a good tune-up before their next competition.

“This is the time to rest my kids that I say are my A-team,” Henry said. “This is the young kids’ chance to show that they are a part of the squad. Many athletes that are pretty good in our program don’t get a chance to compete. The developing team, that I think will be contributors in the future, got a chance to perform.”

On Friday and Saturday, Michigan will travel to Nebraska to compete in the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships. As an experienced veteran, Pendleton knows that the competition in Nebraska is extremely important for the team. She said the Wolverines are excited to go to Lincoln and show what they are made of.

“Yes, we are definitely excited,” Pendelton said. “We have so many people doing really good right now that we are expecting to do great stuff.”

Henry, like his athletes, is looking forward to his team’s next competition, upon which the success of the season will be measured. He also knows that this may be the last chance for his athletes to perform, and that if his team wants to bring home any hardware, all of its members will need to have quality performances.

“Things that you do leading up to the Big Ten Championships should be an indication of what you’re going to do at the Big Ten Championships,” Henry said. “The proof is always, with all of my athletes, in the pudding of competition.”