Michigan track and field’s strong team performance at the Wolverine Invitational hinted at its potential for success in the upcoming indoor season. Although it was an unscored team competition, the Wolverines’ individual accomplishments could translate to an impressive team score when the season commences.
Michigan ran on Jan. 7 against a field of both college teams and professional runners. Siena Heights, Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Madonna made up the collegiate field.
On the professional side, athletes from Very Nice Track Club, New Balance and Adidas — along with unattached athletes — competed. The combination created a competitive atmosphere.
The women won multiple events and notched personal bests, while the men found lineups that worked well while also highlighting areas needing improvement. The Wolverines hope to carry these pre-season achievements into upcoming regular season meets.
Senior Ameia Wilson started the women’s success with a first-place finish in the long jump, where she jumped 5.97 meters, setting a meet record.
Wilson wasn’t done after her first win, though. She finished first in the 60 meter dash with a time of 7.53 seconds — 0.17 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher — and she plans to continue this into the season.
“My plan so far is to keep competing,” Wilson said, “Work on the flaws that I have … and work on a little technique, (the) things I need in order to go to the next level.”
Wilson’s success set the tone for other impressive performances. Graduate Corinne Jemison won the shot put with a throw of 15 meters. Her winning throw was almost nine feet farther than the second-place finisher.
Sophomore Riley Ammenhauser also achieved a first-place finish, along with a new meet record and personal best in the triple jump. Her jump of 12.79 meters won the event with junior Nadia Saunders close behind. Saunders’ jump of 12.42 meters earned her a second-place finish.
Michigan won multiple events in the competitive pre-season meet along with achieving numerous top-three finishes.
“I think everyone did a great job for the first team open,” Wilson said. “I’m proud of everyone. … Everyone was being supportive of each other and they performed well so I’m excited to (continue that) in the future.”
The men also saw success while pushing their young program in its first meet of the year. In the shot put, the Wolverines swept the first three spots as freshman Zane Forist took the top spot, followed by freshman Cade Moran and senior Aiden Felty.
Forist won with a throw of 17.86 meters. Moran and Felty were both within five feet of the winning throw, adding to the strong foundation of success in the upcoming regular season.
In the mile, Michigan continued its dominant performances as senior Nick Foster paced a field of seven Wolverines to a fast finish. Junior Anthony Hancock won with a time of 4:07.79, followed by three freshmen. This young field exemplifies the team’s potential to build upon.
“It’s super promising to have all these young guys running really fast times,” Foster said. “The energy they bring in practice every day is awesome.”
Michigan’s speed in the one-mile race was preceded by Foster and senior Arjun Jha’s performances in the invitational 1,000 meter race, which included professionals. Foster and Jha finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with only professional runners ahead of them.
An uncommon distance in indoor track, the Wolverine Invitational’s 1,000 meter race allowed Michigan runners to race against a professional field.
“I was just excited to open up the season (with the) first race (being) an event that I’ve never run before,” Foster said. “I think it was a new race for most of the guys out there. It’s a good way to just start the season and have fun racing against some really good athletes.”
Both the Wolverine women and men will continue to face tough competition throughout the upcoming indoor season. Their early success in the Wolverine Invitational showcases their potential and provides momentum as they move forward into the season.