Wolverines put together strong all-around performance at Tennessee

By Dylan McKenzie, For the Daily
Published April 15, 2012

Michigan women’s track and field coach James Henry preached the need for improvement from every facet of his young team. At the four-day Sea Ray Relays held in Knoxville, Tenn., Henry may have gotten his wish, as Michigan had strong performances from its sprinters, distance runners, throwers and jumpers.

“Overall, we were solid, and there were signs of improvement,” Henry said.

The Wolverines struggled to find consistency in prior weeks but finally put together a complete performance, led by their strongest athletes.

Junior Alex Leptich, who starred in last week’s meet, once again impressed with a 1,500-meter win in a time of 4:28.53, easily beating teammate sophomore Megan Weschler, who placed second with a time of 4:32.03. Leptich, who also helped the 4x800-meter team place second, was not running in her usual events, which include the 3,000-meter and 300-meter steeplechase.

“I ran races that weren’t really in my best area,” Leptich said. “I definitely have the ability to run in them. I’m not used to running in shorter events, but it will help my steeple.

“I thought it was a pretty successful weekend, I was just running a race within a race, which leads to some pretty fast times.”

Other distance runners had solid performances. Freshman Brook Handler finished third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, junior Lindsey Hilton finished second in the 3,000-meter run and freshman Michaela Carnegie placed third in the 800-meter run.

“It’s good to know that our team has quite a bit of depth, and in training that can help us quite a bit,” Leptich said.

After struggling against top competition at the Stanford Invitational last week, the sprinters, led by junior Charlotte Cahill, had a better performance this week. Cahill took fourth place in Friday’s 100-meter and seventh place in the 200-meter, and she helped the 4x400-meter relay place second on Saturday with a time of 3:43.68.

“In the 100, I was trying to break 12 (seconds), so I was proud to finally get that monkey off my back,” Cahill said. “My 200 was pretty good. I executed the things I wanted to do pretty well.”

The throwers had their usual strong performance led by the Pendleton sisters — senior Emily and junior Erin — and the team had many top-five finishes.

Erin and Emily finished third and fourth in the discus, respectively. Emily also had a third-place finish in the hammer throw and a fifth-place finish in the shotput. Senior Allison Liske also contributed with a fourth-place finish in the shotput.

Senior Brianna Jenkins gave the Wolverines their lone top-three performance in the jumps with a 5-foot-5 high jump.

With the Big Ten Championships rapidly approaching, Henry believes that his team is beginning to peak at the right time.

“We’re rounding into form, but we still have a couple of weeks to get in some good performances or get more competition,” Henry said. “We’re beginning to find an identity. We don’t have one yet but we’re continuing to work on it.”

The team will travel to four more events before heading to Madison, Wisc. for the Big Ten Championships on May 11-13.