Junior Erin Webster would have loved to put together the fastest 5,000-meter run at the Tyson Invitational in Arkansas on Saturday.
She may not have set the track world on fire with a new collegiate record, but Webster’s finish is nothing to scoff at.
She’ll have the chance to go back to Fayetteville in just four weeks to win that 5,000-meter race – at nationals.
Her time of 16:06.58 automatically qualified her for NCAA Indoor Championships.
Webster could not hold onto her lead in the homestretch, coming just .02 seconds shy of beating Iona’s Salome Kosgei to claim first at the non-scoring meet.
“Obviously, I would have loved to have won the race and qualified,” Webster said. “But I was very content with just getting the (qualifying) time . I basically led the whole race, and then got passed in the last little bit. But I feel like you can’t have any negative feelings about the race, because I qualified, so I’m satisfied.”
Sophomore Nicole Edwards claimed second place in the 800-meter event. At last week’s Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame, Edwards gained a provisional qualifying time in the mile.
“The last two meets were really good, just because the competition level was higher than what we had been experiencing in the earlier part of the season,” Edwards said. “Just having the better competitors around puts you in the mindset that you really have to step it up for the Big Ten (Championships) or to qualify for nationals.”
If Edwards does end up running the 800-meters at nationals, she will accompany freshman Geena Gall and junior Katie Erdman, who each put together automatic qualifying times for nationals at the Meyo Invitational.
Edwards could potentially end up qualifying automatically for nationals in both events, but she said there is no guarantee she will actually run in both come March.
“There isn’t much of a possibility that I will run both the mile and the 800-meter at nationals,” Edwards said. “I’ll run the (distance medley relay) and possibly another event with it. The (distance medley relay) is definitely the main focus, because our team has a shot at winning the national championship in it.”
Like Webster and Edwards, Erdman narrowly missed a win as well. But she managed to take second in the mile run with a personal best of 4:44.34. She earned a provisional qualifying time with the run, her fourth of the year.
The meets at Notre Dame and Arkansas provided the team with solid competition, which can serve as very valuable experience with the Big Ten Championship meet just three weeks away, and nationals one week after that.
“We knew the level (of competition) was going to go up in February,” Michigan assistant coach Mike McGuire said. “Our January preparation and competitiveness was really important and put us in this position to run (well). The last two meets were real good competition at real fast tracks, so we did our homework and prepared for them.”
The success in the past weeks has also allowed the team the opportunity to look ahead with high expectations.