‘M’ jumper Lauren Young swaps basketball for track

By Liz Vukelich, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 12, 2011

There was little surprise that Lauren Young had enough talent to win the high jump for the Michigan women’s track and field team last weekend in California.

The only surprise was that she was even competing.

By all rights, the Wolverines should never have had Young on their team in the first place.

The senior only joined Michigan’s “track family” at the beginning of 2010 after dabbling in college basketball for two seasons.

In high school, Young flourished both on the court and the field. But when her senior year rolled around, a decision had to be made — which sport to continue with in college. Ultimately, basketball won out, and under the influence of her father, Young spent her freshman year playing forward for Colorado State.

“I always had more of a preference for basketball,” Young said. “I wasn’t quite ready to give it up.”

Young had a successful first year with the Rams, starting five games and recording the second-most number of blocks on the team. But at the conclusion of the season, Young made the choice to swap her green and gold jersey for one that was maize and blue, and play basketball for a school that recruited her for the high jump. She transferred to Michigan.

Young's stint with Michigan’s basketball team was brief — just one season.

Her stint as a non-athlete was even shorter.

“I quit basketball and was looking forward to just being a regular student,” Young said. “I had been off for about two weeks when (Michigan coach James Henry) called me and asked if I’d be interested in joining track.”

Henry remembered Young from when she was still in high school, and invited her to a track practice to see if she would be interested in wearing the block ‘M’ one more time. Young remembers the relaxed nature of the track and field team was what drew her in.

“(Track) is a lot more laid back then basketball,” she said. “It’s more individual. Sometimes I miss the team aspect that you get with basketball, but overall I think track is a better fit for me.”

Though she is happy with the decision to trade Crisler Arena for Ferry Field, the transition hasn't always been easy. Young had a serious struggle with shin pains, which plagued her last year, which led her to begin having doubts about whether she could ever fully recover.

It only took a little time for Young to realize that the only way to overcome injuries would be to start taking care of herself. Once she made the commitment to look after her body and get enough rest, Young saw a turn-around in her results — February’s Silverston Invitation marked the first time that she won the high jump as a Wolverine.

At last Saturday’s meet at UCLA, Henry cited Young as one of Michigan’s athletes who stood out most to him. She not only won the high jump as the Wolverines' only representative in that event, but also set a personal record of 1.75 meters to go along with it.

The rest of the team is looking forward to the Big Ten Championships, and Young is no exception. Even after a confidence-boosting weekend, she knows she has to put in extra work to make up for time lost while playing basketball.

“Having to pick up high jump after taking two and a half years off, I’m always a little shaky,” Young said. “Is this what I’m supposed to be doing? I know I have different things that I need to improve on.

“But my confidence level is good and I feel like stuff is starting to click finally. Every meet I’m going to try and treat the stuff I need to work on, and hopefully by Big Tens I’ll be consistent and be able to jump really well.”