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Wolverines win two relay titles at Raleigh Relays

By Mark Terwilliger, For the Daily
Published March 31, 2013

The Michigan women’s track and field team continued its strong start to the outdoor season in the Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, N.C., winning two relay titles and posting 17 top-five performances throughout the weekend.

In the 4x1,500-meter relay on Saturday, the team of sophomore Brook Handler, redshirt freshman Shannon Osika, senior Rebecca Addison and redshirt junior Jillian Smith finished with a time of 17:44.57, beating the rest of the field by almost 40 seconds. The team’s other relay success came in the 4x800-meter, ran by the team of redshirt Meg Bellino, freshman Danielle Pfeifer, Osika and Addison. This time of 8:33.54 set a meet record.

“Everyone is motivating each other right now,” Handler said. “I was happy with our progress in the relays — definitely a lot better than the first weekend.”

Strong individual performances in both long- and short-distance events also highlighted the weekend. Handler supplemented her relay win with a second-place finish in the 1500-meter run on day one with a personal-best time of 4:26.44, and senior Charlotte Cahill placed third in the 200-meter invitational with a time of 24.47. Finally, junior Amber Smith and freshman Cindy Ofili both had top-five finishes in the 100-meter hurdles.

“I felt very focused and relaxed,” Ofili said. “This was a big personal record for me. I just focused on sprinting my own race and nobody else’s.”

Michigan also found success in the field events. Redshirt junior Sara Nitz’s 1.70-meter high jump was good enough for a fifth-place finish. Another top-five finish was secured by senior Erin Pendleton, who placed second in discus with a toss of 49.59 meters.

As the month changes and the weather gets warmer, the Wolverines are beginning to heat up in the outdoor season. The first three events have been unscored, but the real competition begins next weekend with the team’s first scored meet. Michigan is looking to transfer its success from the indoor season to outdoors to finish this track and field season strongly.

“The most exciting thing about our team this season is that we are really close,” Handler said. “We are a very deep team this year, we all push each other and we all want regional times. We also have a lot of seniors that want to go out with a bang.”

At the current pace the team is at so far this outdoor season, regional and national success looks like a genuine possibility. The Wolverines’ depth in several events should help get them there.

Michigan will be in action again next weekend in a triangular meet with California and Virginia in Berkeley, Calif.