When the Michigan women’s track team traveled to Grand Valley State on Friday for the Bob Eubanks Open for its first meet in the indoor season, the Wolverines came away with four first-place finishes and 26 top-five performances.
Junior Amber Smith was one of the first-place finishers, winning the 60-meter hurdle race with a personal best time of 8.39. Smith has taken a new approach when stepping to the starting line this year. When she settled into her blocks she was thinking one thing — “win.”
“It sounds kind of cliché, and you would think that’s automatic, but for the last couple years that wasn’t my thought process,” Smith said. “My thought process has been do the best I can, give it all I can, and that works too, but I’m ready to win.”
Smith admitted that she would be okay not running at her best as long as she came away a winner. But her new approach worked out well Friday when she won her first event at a big collegiate meet.
Freshman Cindy Ofili and junior Erin Busbee also made the finals for the hurdles and finished fourth and seventh respectively.
Junior Megan Weschler ran a 2:13 in the 800 meter race, which was good enough for a first place finish. The Wolverines showed their strength by sweeping the event.
“It felt pretty good, and I was just really happy for everyone,” Weschler said. “The team has so much depth this year, and I’m really excited to see how the season goes.”
In the mile race, freshman Devon Hoppe was first to cross the finish line with a time of 5:11 in her first collegiate race.
After missing two years because of a back injury, redshirt junior Sara Nitz took first place in high jump, clearing 5’5.75”. Nitz was happy to compete again and prove to herself that she could perform in a meet setting.
“First place was great but that wasn’t my goal coming in — my goal was to go out there and do my thing,” Nitz said. “The best way to describe it is I called my parents up and told them how I did and I didn’t mention I won. I was too excited that I hit 5’5.75” and looked good at 5’7.75.”
Nitz said that her problem is often that she thinks too much when jumping. A bad performance can haunt her for a few days — at the same time a good performance provides a noticeable boost in confidence.
“I want to break my PR this year, I want to score at Big Ten (meets), and this is a very good first meet for me to build off of,” Nitz said.