By Eli Sparkman, For the Daily
Published March 4, 2013
The last chance meet is pretty self-explanatory — it represents an athlete’s final opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships. On Friday and Saturday, 16 competitors from the Michigan women’s track and field team traveled to the Loftus Sports Center in South Bend, Ind. to try to capitalize on that last chance. There, many Michigan athletes rose to the occasion.
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To start things off on Friday evening, junior Erin Busbee set a new school record with an impressive 6.38 meters in the long jump. The former record of 6.36 meters, held by Brandi Bently, was set in 1999.
“It was mind-blowing for me,” said Busbee. “After the jump I knew it was a great one, but I didn’t know if I’d made Nationals and I didn’t find out it was a school record until later Friday night. I don’t think its even fully set in yet.”
The first-place finish and record jump came to somewhat of a surprise, due to Busbee’s less than impressive performance in the Big Ten Indoor Championship the week before. This only goes to show the great work ethic of the young athlete.
“She is one of our hardest working athletes, she comes in early and she leaves late,” said Michigan coach James Henry. “She just had a disastrous Big Ten by falling down, but I couldn’t be more pleased to see her step up and stay focused to break that record today.”
Busbee has secured a spot at the National Championship, and is now looking forward to capitalizing on her opportunity.
For another group on the women’s track and field team, making it to the NCAA Indoor Championship was not as much of a goal as it was an expectation.
Coming off of a win at the Big Ten Championship, the Michigan distance medley relay team, consisting of seniors Rebecca Addison, Jillian Smith and Amanda Eccleston, as well as freshmen Maya Long, scored not only the fastest time of the year, but also shattered a University of Michigan program record with a time of 10:56.66. The 2008 distance medley relay team set the former record of 11:01.51.
“(The record) was not a surprise, as (associate coach) Mike McGuire has done a great job with those girls, he’s got them peaked at the right time,” Henry said. “Hopefully we continue to improve and show well in the final meet of the year.”
Senior Rebecca Addison started off the run.
“I ran the 1200, which is the first leg, and I’d never ran it before. I really liked it because in the beginning all of the runners aren’t spread out yet,” Addison said. “Next was Maya Long, and she ran a really good 400 leg. Jillian Smith ran a personal best on the 800. Amanda did the mile and she was just hanging with the other runners the whole time until the last few meters, where she found a good tick.”
As if the relay time wasn’t astonishing enough, this meet was actually the first time these four runners had done the event together.
“I think the fact that we’ve never ran together just shows how much depth the whole team has,” Addison said. “We were excited to put this team together and just run as hard as we could to make it to Nationals.”
Although no records were broken Saturday, the Wolverines still had many great performances.
Redshirt junior Kiley Tobel scored the best in the pole vault with a height of 4.13 meters.
In her first last-chance meet, freshmen runner Cindy Ofili placed third in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.24 seconds. Senior Ada Unachukwu also placed third in her event, the triple jump, with a length of 12.50 meters.
Two new personal best times were achieved on Saturday, including senior Meg Bellino’s 2:07.50 in the 800-meter dash and sophomore Shannon Osika’s 4:37.91 in the mile.
By the end of the last chance meet, three total Wolverines had qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Junior Erin Busbee will take her new program record and compete as the 8th seed in the long jump against the nation’s best.
Sophomore Shannon Osika will run as the 16th seed in the mile, and the distance medley relay team will be the favorite to win their run as the 1st seed. Busbee, Osika and the distance medley relay team will try and capture their national titles next Friday and Saturday, March 8-9, in Fayetteville, Ark. home of the University of Arkansas.