Michigan fifth-year senior Katie Jazwinski was the only Wolverine who competed at last year”s NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, finishing seventh and 15th, respectively, in the 5,000 and 3,000-meter runs. But after battling injury for much of this season, Jazwinski figured she had little chance of returning to nationals this season and decided to focus on the Big Ten Championship.
So she”s thrilled just to have qualified for the NCAA Championships this weekend in Fayetteville, Ark., where she will run the mile.
“Making it to Nationals is just a bonus because at the beginning of the season I didn”t think I would make it,” Jazwinski said.
An Achilles” heel injury she suffered at the end of the cross country season kept Jazwinski out of the first three meets of the indoor season. She resumed training about five weeks ago, and put considerable pressure on herself to quickly return to form.
“My coaches and everyone told me not even to worry about Nationals, just think about Big Tens,” Jazwinski said.
After that, she relaxed, enjoyed her races more and started performing well again.
Jazwinski”s recovery appeared to be complete two weeks ago in State College when she led Michigan to the Big Ten Championship. Jazwinski”s win in the mile her first race of the year at that distance and her second-place finishes in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters landed her the Athlete of the Meet award.
She followed that with a personal-best 4:44.40 mile at the “last-chance” Alex Wilson Invitational last weekend, and on Monday learned that her time was good enough for the NCAA meet.
Jazwinski competed in the mile in high school and said it”s one of her favorite events.
“I definitely love the mile, and I”m happy that I”m going to Nationals in the mile,” she said. “It”s fun to run because it combines speed, strength and endurance.”
Because the mile is usually a faster race than the 3,000 or 5,000 meters, Jazwinski has to make a few minor adjustments.
“It goes by pretty quick, so you can never let your guard down,” Jazwinski said. “You have to be ready for everything and be ready to make changes.”
Right now, Jazwinski isn”t aiming for a particular placing she”s just concentrating on running well enough in tomorrow”s prelims to make it into the final on Saturday but she expects the competition to be fairly balanced.
“At Nationals, everyone is pretty much equal and it”s just whoever wants it the most,” she said, adding that her experience of competing at NCAAs last year should help her feel less nervous.
While Jazwinski is excited to be competing this weekend, she wishes teammate April Phillips could join her. Phillips set provisional marks in both the shot put and the weight throw at Big Tens, but she missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships by one spot.
Jazwinksi prefers competing in team events, which is why this weekend won”t be her biggest even if she runs well.
“My highlight of the year no matter what is the Big Ten Championships,” she said. Sharing the victory with the entire team “was the most awesome experience I”ve had in my five years here.”