By Maryam Squillace, For the Daily
Published February 5, 2012
In a sea of hundreds of athletes, a modest freshman from Waterford, Mich. shined.
This past weekend, the No. 23 Michigan women’s track and field team attended the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational.
At the event, Michigan women’s track and field freshman Shannon Osika proved that class standing is really just a label.
Osika was one of the 14 Wolverines that had top-10 performances this past weekend. She placed first in the Meyo Mile with the eighth-fastest time in the country and a personal best of 4:38.42. Osika also beat her personal-best of 4:41.31, which she set at the team’s meet at Nebraska on Jan. 28.
“It was her turn today, (Osika) was the freshest competitor, and we’re hoping we’ll get many good performances out of her. I know the other athletes will step up as well,” said Michigan coach James Henry.
Henry was also referring to teammates junior Jillian Smith, who placed second, and junior Rebecca Addison, who placed 12th.
Osika also led the distance medley relay to place first, running the 1,200-meter leg, followed by senior Brittani Williams, Smith and Addison. This was the team’s first time competing in the distance medley relay this season, obtaining a first-place finish with a time of 11:04:30.
Because of their score, the team is already NCAA Division-I qualified, having beaten the qualifying time of 11:03.50. Their time is the fourth fastest in the nation, and the best time of any Big Ten team so far.
“It felt really good, really great for my confidence,” Osika said. “It makes me excited for the future, for the future meets, and seeing what I can do for my team.”
The team also got good performances out of sophomore Taylor Pogue, sophomore Amber Smith and redshirt sophomore Kiley Tobel. Pogue placed third in the mile run, Amber Smith placed third in the 60-meter hurdles and Tobel placed fourth in the pole vault. The athletes had the upcoming Big Tens on their minds, and used this event to prepare themselves for the event, their most important of the season.
“I think I need to work on my speed a little bit,” Pogue said. “I think my endurance was there, and I have a good base, but I need to work on my turnover at the end of the race. And I think I need to improve on my overall race strategy.”
Tobel has been hard at work this season with assistant coach Shean Conlon, perfecting her pole vaulting in light of the upcoming Big Tens. She tied in fourth place at Notre Dame after placing second at their meet at Nebraska.
“There was a lot of good competition, so it was good jumping against some competitors in the Big Ten,” Tobel said. “But I would liked to have jumped higher today but I still am working on things and getting ready for Big Tens a couple weeks from now.”
The main thing on the girls’ minds is preparing for the Big Tens on February 24th and 25th. The SPIRE Invitational is another opportunity before the Big Tens for the girls to get ready, both with their performance and their mentality.
“Just got to keep moving ahead, and as I would call it stay connected,” Henry said. “And by that I mean as the competition improves, we must improve. As conditions change, we must change with the conditions. This was a big track, our first 300-meter track — 300-plus meter track — and we stepped up to the conditions. As the competition improves, it’s important that we must improve.”