Two hundred twenty-five meters into the first lap of the Michigan women’s track and field 4×400 meter relay, graduate runner Sophie Isom lay sprawled out on the track.
But before that, the Wolverines’ first leg was off to a promising start. It held the second position in the field of four, until Isom tripped on the turn, falling off the track and dropping her baton – and with it, the hope of a Michigan victory appeared to dissipate. As the gap between Isom and the field grew, she staggered to her feet, desperate to salvage the Wolverines’ chances.
Three minutes and eight seconds later, junior Ziyah Holman crossed the finish line. The clock read 3:42.43 and the Simmons-Harvey Invitational crowd roared as the rest of the field was nowhere to be found.
Once trailing by more than five seconds, Michigan mounted a stunning comeback. Sophomore Savannah Sutherland closed the gap between the Wolverines and the field with her blazing 51.45 second leg which proved key to setting up Michigan in the second half.
“Everyone along the back stretch was cheering us on, everyone in the stands was on their feet, it made it so much easier to run fast,” sophomore Savannah Sutherland said.
From there, fifth-year Aurora Rynda kept her foot on the gas with a 54.61 third leg, putting Michigan in the lead, and priming junior Ziyah Holman to slam the proverbial door.
Holman delivered to the tune of a 53.07-second anchor performance, which cemented Michigan’s unbelievable eight-second victory over Ohio State who took second place.
What happened between Isom’s fall and the Wolverines’ rise was the most inspired running of the afternoon, powered by pure adrenaline and a will to win. Sutherland’s closing of the gap set up Rynda and Holman to bring it all home en route to victory.
“Every practice we’re always competing against each other,” Sutherland said. “All the 400 girls, we race each other every rep and that really helps when you get in an actual race setting.”
The teamwork and willpower displayed by the 4×400 meter team encapsulated the wider trend of dominance that the Michigan women’s track team set as the standard during their 195-point victory at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational.
When asked about the Wolverines’ mentality moving forward, sophomore Riley Amenhauser supposed it up directly, ”stronger and more powerful.”
Their growing strength and power will look to continue in their early-season performances. As the Wolverines found their place and pace in the Simmons-Harvey Invitational, they proved that they have the potential to make noise in the Big Ten track world.
“We’re looking forward to putting ourselves in a position to compete on a conference and national level,” Michigan assistant coach Charnay Ryland said.
That competition and noise grew deafening as the 4×400 meter relay turned from sure defeat into emphatic victory.