BY ANNE UIBLE
Daily Sports Writer
Published March 6, 2003
This weekend represents Michigan's last chance to qualify for NCAA Championships. The time has come to see which athletes are really prepared to compete with the cream of the crop.
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Several of Michigan women's track and field athletes will be heading off to South Bend, Ind. for the Alex Wilson Invitational tomorrow in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships the following weekend in Fayetteville, Ark.
Known as the "last-chance" meet, the runners, throwers and jumpers will have one last opportunity to prove that they are NCAA Championship material. They each have to make NCAA qualifying times, distances and heights in their events this weekend, or else wait until next year for another shot.
The invitational will be a non-scoring event because each team will only bring those athletes who have not yet qualified for the NCAA Championships.
"We are only going to be bringing seven athletes to the meet this weekend," said associate head coach Mike McGuire. "Hopefully getting some of them tuned up for the NCAA Championships. Realistically, this meet will only be in the athletes' best interest to run. Whether they qualify or not, it will prepare them for the upcoming outdoor season."
The rest of the team not participating in the meet will get a well-deserved weekend off to prepare for the NCAA Championships.
After winning their second consecutive the Indoor Big Ten Championship last weekend, the Wolverines were also honored with numerous awards to go along with the team title.
Michigan coach James Henry was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the fourth time. In his 19th year as head coach of the women's track team, Henry has led Michigan to nine Big Ten championships and has also coached more than 70 athletes to individual and relay titles.
Along with Henry, freshman phenom Katie Erdman was named Big Ten Indoor Freshman of the Year, after becoming the first Michigan freshman runner in history to win an individual title at the indoor Big Ten championships. Erdman won the 600-meter run to capture the championship title, setting a school record.
"Everyone was very excited about the championship title, it was a nice way to finish up the tough conference season and get ready for the next meet," said McGuire
They say things come in sets of three, and the track and field program hopes that's true, as the team sets out to make Big Ten history with three championship titles.
After taking first place in the cross country Big Ten Championship this past fall and winning the indoor Big Ten Championship last weekend, the Wolverines could complete the Big Ten triple crown by defending the Big Ten title at the outdoor championships this May.