Freshmen impress in split-squad invites

Patrick Barron/Daily
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By Shawn Heroor, For The Daily
Published April 20, 2014

Several Wolverines notched personal records this week for the women’s track and field team, but it was two freshmen, Aaron Howell and Erin Finn, who grabbed the spotlight for the Wolverines, with Finn breaking a 29-year-old record.

Howell started the competition in the two-day California Invitational heptathlon on Wednesday. Her strong Thursday performance vaulted her to a first-place overall finish in the invite A section, with a final point total of 5,416.

Howell’s performance was followed by Finn in the Mount Sac relays Friday. Finn’s outdoor debut in the 5,000-meter race ended in a seventh-place finish and a time of 15:41.35 while racing in the invite elite section. Her time broke a 29-year-old Michigan record of 15:42.70, set by Sue Schroeder in 1985.

“I’m beyond elated right now,” Finn said.

But Finn, who also holds the indoor 5,000-meter record for the Wolverines, wasn’t satisfied with just those two records.

“Its definitely very cool, but I want more,” she said. “Getting these records just makes me hungrier.”

The freshmen’s performance has not been lost on coach James Henry.

“(Howell and Finn) have been standouts so early in their career,” Henry said. “It’s always nice to see them develop so well this early.”

Junior Brooke Handler, the reigning Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week, also raced in the 5,000-meter race Friday, finishing runner-up in the Olympic Developmental section with a time of 16:04.99.

The distance team was in action again Saturday at the Beach Invitational in Norwalk, Calif., where the Wolverines took home eight personal records on the day.

The Wolverines were paced by sophomore Danielle Pfeifer, who placed first in the 800-meter invitational flight with a time of 2:06.82. Redshirt sophomore Devon Hoppe finished third in the race with a time of 2:07.57. Junior Shannon Osika also notched a personal record in the 1,500-meter race with a time for 4:19.20, good for second place in the invitational flight. Freshmen Gina McNamara and Courtney Munley, as well as redshirt senior Jami Hill, also posted personal records in the 800-meter, while sophomore Laura Addison and freshman Jamie Morrissey did the same in the 1,500-meter run.

The short-distance runners and most of the field team were also in action Saturday during the LSU Gold Alumni Invite in Baton Rouge, La. The Wolverines were led by sophomore sprinter Cindy Ofili, who finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles A section with a time of 13.08. Senior Erin Busbee also raced the 100-meter hurdles, finishing third in the B Section with a final time of 13.66.

Overall, Henry was impressed with his team’s performance over the entire week.

“We’re just looking for improvement week to week,” Henry said. “We wanted to see the best competition, and we saw some very good performances.”