As the runners took off for the first heat of the 800-meter finals, the Power Five Invitational came to its climax.

Each runner in the heat, unafilliated pros Sonia Gaskin and Maddy KellyNike’s Melissa Bishop-Nriagu and Shannon Osika, and Brooks’ Amanda Eccleston will also run in the Olympic Trials for their respective countries in hopes of earning a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Ultimately, it was for All-American and Michigan alum Shannon Osika who took first, with the world’s second-fastest run 800-meter dash thus far this year.

The event was star-studded. The top track and field athletes from across the nation met in Ann Arbor for early-season bragging rights and to prepare for upcoming Olympic Trials. Six-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix was even among the field and took first place at the women’s 60-meter dash.

Overall, six former Olympians took part in the event, as well as numerous Olympic hopefuls and over fifty collegiate athletes. Despite the heavy competition, several Wolverines earned first-place finishes over professionals.

“It’s amazing,” senior sprinter Jade Harrison said. “It’s very nerve-wracking as well racing against Olympians in general. But it was a lot of fun.”

Despite her nerves, Harrison would end up winning the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.26 seconds. She raced Cindy Ofili, a decorated Michigan alum who earned fourth in the 100-meter dash at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“Once I hit the 100 mark, that’s when I started to pick it up,” Harrison said. “And I was able to come home strong.”

Harrison wasn’t the only Wolverine to best an Olympian. In the 400-meter dash junior sprinter Chloe Foster beat Canadian Olympian Noelle Montcalm with a new personal best of 54.23 seconds.

“I felt like I had more energy,” Foster said. “Since the (600-meter dash) went well on Friday, I felt confident in what I could do in the (400-meter dash).”

On the men’s side, the competition was no less stiff. Senior distance runner Anthony Berry, the No. 19 distance runner in the country, fell in a close race to Dejon Devroe of Mississippi State in the 800-meter finals. Devroe ranks in the top 10 nationally for distance running.

“There’s some pressure to (running against top competition),” Berry said. “Not a ton, but it definitely gets in your head a little bit. But you just got to put all that aside and focus on your race.”

Berry, coming off a personal best in the mile last weekend, lost to Devroe by less than a second. 

In the heptathlon, freshmen Mason Mahacek and Heath Baldwin both broke the Michigan freshman record for points scored and finished second and third, respectively. It was the first collegiate appearance for these two roommates, and they relied on each other to push them through.

“It’s been so helpful,” Mahacek said. “We’re roommates as well. It’s always a lot of fun. … We each have our own events that we’re better at. So I give Heath pole vault advice a lot, and Heath has helped me so much with my hurdles.”

In the field as well, two of the top shot put throwers in the country were on display. Fifth-year thrower Andrew Liskowitz, currently ranked at No. 4 in the country beat No. 3 John MacArthur of North Carolina with a distance of 19.76 meters.

“(MacArthur’s) the best thrower I’ve faced all year,” Liskowitz said. “I got the win, would’ve liked a better series, but I still got the win, so I guess it’s OK.”

With this win, Liskowitz continues his strong start to the 2020 season. He’s already broken his own school record five times, and his average distance of 19.88 meters per throw at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational in Kentucky is good for the highest single-meet average in the nation this year.

“I’ve just been pretty consistent this year.” Liskowitz said. “My work ethic never wavers, and off the track I’ve been making sure I’m sleeping, eating right. Doing all the little things like that … I’ve just gotta keep that going moving into the later half of the season.”

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