On Saturday, it snowed in Ann Arbor.

On that same day in California, it was partly sunny with a high of 64 degrees.

It’s no wonder that the Michigan women’s track and field team chose to open their outdoor season with a trip to the West Coast.

Looking to escape the doldrums of the midwestern winter and cramped indoor tracks, the Wolverines were finally able to stretch their legs out on a longer, outdoor track under a warm Irvine, Calif. sun.

In the individual scoring meet, many of the Wolverines placed high. Leading the way was a Michigan trio that included fifth-year seniors Katie Erdman and Stephanie Linz, who took the 1,500-meter run and high jump, respectively. Freshman Bettie Wade captured the long jump title. Michigan coach James Henry said he was pleased with his team’s performances.

“I thought opening up, we were pretty good,” Henry said. “Katie Erdman was outstanding, and I was very impressed with Bettie Wade. I thought she may be a little flat from the indoor season, but she opened up very well for us.”

The three aforementioned runners were not the only Wolverines to post strong showings at the meet. There were five Wolverines who took second-place finishes. These included fifth-year senior Theresa Feldkamp in the 1,500-meter, junior Chanelle Campbell in the 200-meter, freshman Tiffany Ofili in the 100-meter hurdles, freshman Joi Smith in the 400-meter hurdles and freshman Casey Taylor in the triple jump.

The meet was non-scoring, so Michigan set no specific team goals. But the lack of a goal clearly did not create a lack of motivation.

“It was just the first meet for us,” Henry said. “I didn’t have any real expectations for the girls. I just wanted them to go out there and perform with no pressure on them. But I am very pleased with how they did.”

Even though Henry did not have high expectations for the meet, he certainly was not surprised by the showing his runners posted. Coming off of a year in which the Wolverine runners took the Big Ten Championship in cross country and indoor track, the team will be looking to continue its winning trend into the outdoor season this spring.

“We have a great group of ladies here,” Henry said. “They are very close, very talented, very competitive, and we have great leadership on this team. Our goal is to go for the triple crown.”

The triple crown is an extremely rare accomplishment in running that the Wolverines have the unique opportunity to achieve this year. To obtain the crown, a school must win the Big Ten Championship in cross country and indoor and outdoor track. The feat is so rare, in fact, that only two schools in the Big Ten have ever done it – Wisconsin three times and Michigan, who did it most recently in the 1997-98 season.

With the first two trophies in the bag for the Wolverines, the final and maybe most difficult leg of the crown is all that remains. Yet, with the makeup of this year’s team, Henry said he believes it is a feat well within reach.

“These ladies have given us a great opportunity to be on that track this year,” Henry said. “And today was a good beginning toward being on that track.”

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