Women’s track outruns poor weather

For the Daily
Published April 21, 2013

Freshman Cindy Ofili and her teammates are focused on improving every tiny flaw in their races as the Michigan women’s track and field season draws to a close, but all coach James Henry wants is for spring to arrive.

“Overall, we’re working on trying to get some good weather,” Henry said. “If we can get some good weather, then I would be a happy coach, but they still performed well under the conditions that we’ve had.”

The Wolverines posted impressive results at the Kansas Relays this weekend, while also sending some athletes to the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.

Ofili headed a group that took home a medley of awards at the Kansas Relays, winning the 100-meter hurdles in a near-personal-best time of 13.50 seconds and placing second as part of the 4x100-meter relay team. Senior Rebecca Addison took second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:05.74, and fifth-year senior Amanda Eccleston, sophomore Shannon Osika and senior Jillian Smith finished second, third and fourth in the 1,500-meter run. Junior Erin Busbee also had a strong meet, posting a personal best in the long jump with a jump of 5.96 meters, good enough for fourth place.

Ofili credited her work on her start in practice for the win in the 100-meter hurdles.

“It was better than my usual start for sure,” Ofili said. “By the fifth or sixth hurdle, I felt myself really running fast, and I felt myself pulling away a little bit.

“We’ve been working on my start a lot in practice, and it’s something that has taken a long time for me to get better at. I think that eventually, when I get my start together with my race, my time will hopefully drop a lot.”

The Wolverines’ strong performance began Thursday, when freshman Taylor Manett won the unseeded 1,500-meter run and junior Nicola Hallenborg grabbed second place in the 10,000-meter run. Juniors Alex Leptch and Taylor Poque also turned in strong times against intense competition at the Mt. SAC relays in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 10,000-meter run, respectively.

The success continued into the weekend, when Michigan pole vaulters sophomore Victoria Wesley and senior Kiley Tobel placed seventh and sixth in separate divisions.

“We had a good across-the-board performance,” Henry said. “To be a good team, you have to get contributions from everywhere, and I think we did. That’s what we want. We want every class, every person to make a contribution.”

Next up for the Wolverines are the Drake and Penn Relays, which will send the team to different parts of the country again — Des Moines, Iowa and Philadelphia, respectively.

“We’re fragmented,” said Henry, “It’s not a great feeling when you’re splitting the team up … (but) we have to chase the warm weather even if we don’t end up with warm weather.”