The third-ranked Michigan women’s track and field team competed against the nation’s top athletes in the venue that will be the grand stage of college track and field at next month’s NCAA Indoor Championship. But the Wolverines weren’t intimidated.
Several Wolverines achieved personal bests and set school records Friday evening and Saturday afternoon in the Tyson Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Complex in Fayetteville, Ark.
Although it was a non-scoring meet, the Wolverines’ speed will bode well for future success.
Michigan’s athletes gained valuable experience from competing on the same rubber on which they will run next month.
Junior Geena Gall ran the 800-meter race in 2:03:37, breaking a Michigan record. The time, her personal best, was the fastest of any collegiate runner in the event this season and also secured a spot in the NCAAs.
Senior co-captain Nicole Edwards bulldozed her previous school record in the indoor mile by three seconds, posting a 4:33.23 on Friday.
Those times alone would have given the Wolverines momentum heading into the Big Ten Indoor Championships March 1.
But the Wolverines were not finished.
On Saturday, Serita Williams set a school record in the 400-meter dash, while perennial standout Tiffany Ofili tied her own school record in the 60-meter hurdles, also clinching an NCAA appearance with her first-place finish.
From the coaches’ perspective, though, one of the most impressive showings of the weekend broke no records.
Freshman Kaitlyn Peale ran the 5,000-meter race in 15:57.25 in Saturday’s championship round.
“Kaitlyn’s time is a magical number for someone at that experience level,” Michigan assistant coach Mike McGuire said.
It knocked a minute off Peale’s time from Friday’s preliminaries, demonstrating her rapid growth as a young runner.
The team will need contributions from younger talent like Peale, as well as from established veterans like Edwards, Ofili and Gall, to make a true push for next month’s indoor championships.
“We’re starting to piece this thing together in the right direction,” McGuire said.