For the second weekend in a row, Michigan’s junior distance runner Erin Finn broke a school record. Last weekend at Notre Dame, it was in the 3,000-meter run, and this weekend, it was the 5,000-meter run, breaking her own record that she set as a freshman in 2014.
“I’m really excited to be trending in the right direction alongside my teammates,” Finn said.
As one of the Wolverines’ more seasoned runners, Finn was not only pleased with her personal performance, but also with the team’s performance as a whole. The No. 11 Michigan women’s track and field team had several events with at least one top-five finisher and posted numerous personal bests, in addition to a few school and facility records.
While Finn had a phenomenal weekend, senior runner Cindy Ofili was just as impressive. After breaking the eight-second barrier in the 60-meter hurdles with a 7.97 at Notre Dame, Ofili continued to blow away the competition at the SPIRE Invitational, setting a facility record with a 8.02. Her 7.97 second personal record is just .03 seconds shy of the school record, which was set by her sister, Tiffany Porter, in 2008.
Michigan coach James Henry has invested a lot of time working with both Ofili and Porter, and admires the way Ofili has adopted her sister’s approach to running.
“(Ofili) is a replica of her sister when it comes to both her talent and her work ethic,” Henry said.
Ofili remains on the watch list for The Bowerman award, the highest accolade in collegiate track and field. Despite a low chance of receiving the award, Ofili’s recent performances have shown that she deserves recognition as one of the nation’s elite runners.
Michigan, meanwhile, has also been making its case as one of the best in the Big Ten, if not the nation. Runners Jamie Phelan and Claire Borchers also asserted their dominance, finishing first in the 800-meter and mile run, respectively. According to Henry, performing well at February meets is crucial for the Wolverines to build momentum for the Big Ten Championships.
“February is for results; this weekend is what we call the semifinals to our Big Ten Championships,” Henry said. “You have to set your mark, set your time and let people know where you are at to establish yourself.”
After a collection of strong results, Henry views the season as mission accomplished up to this point, but also noted that the team still has room to grow and rough edges to smooth out. With the big meet two weeks away, most of the Big Ten runners will be sitting out the Alex Wilson Invitational this upcoming weekend.
The next time star runners such as Ofili and Finn lace up will be back at the SPIRE facility, the Big Ten Championships site. Thus, Michigan will return to a familiar facility confident and poised to improve upon an already impressive season.