Snow, fierce winds and temperatures in the 30’s greeted Ann Arbor residents this weekend, but the Michigan women’s track team didn’t experience the chill. That’s because the Wolverines were enjoying a little fun in the sun at the Florida State Relays in Tallahassee, Fla.

Paul Wong
Michigan thrower Ashley Eckel finished 22nd and 21st in the javelin and discus throws, respectively, on Friday at the Florida State Relays. (DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily)

“The weather wasn’t as warm as we had wanted, it was mid to upper sixties,” coach James Henry said. “But still, that felt warm to us.”

Most Michigan students would agree that these days anything above 50 feels like summer. The Wolverines took advantage of the location of their first outdoor meet to relax, but they didn’t forget the competitive aspect of the meet.

The Wolverines won both the 800-and 1,500-meter relays as well as the 400-meter hurdles. In the hurdles, sophomore Vera Simms turned in a personal best time of 59.5 – the second fastest time ever for the Wolverines.

In the field events Teyonna Simpson turned in a triple jump of 39 feet 10 inches to take second place and Sharifa Jones placed third in the long jump with a jump of 19 feet 1 inch. Jones also took sixth in the 400-meter hurdles, right behind teammate Shalina Rankin.

Senior April Phillips continued her throwing success by finishing second in the hammer with a combined distance of 183 feet 2 inches. Her 55 feet 3 inches toss in the final round broke the track record.

Overall, Henry was pleased with his team’s results. The first meet of the outdoor season afforded him a chance to assess the team as a whole and on an individual level, but Henry said that’s not what this meet was about.

“It’s too early to make that kind of assessment,” he said. “Just because someone doesn’t perform as well as we expected this early in the season doesn’t mean they won’t improve as the season goes on. I like to look at the positives at a meet like this.”

There were plenty of those, as shown by Michigan’s finish in the top five of most of the events in which they competed. Another positive aspect was the fact the Wolverines got to take a trip to someplace warm and have a chance to unwind after a lengthy indoor season.

“This meet was more low key, which was excellent for us,” Henry said. “We had a chance to get out in warm weather and have some good competition as well.”

Next weekend, the team again travels to a warmer climate, heading to Palo Alto, Calif. for the Stanford Invitational.

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