Though fifth-year senior Tofunmi Akeredolu has dealt with injuries in the past. She looked better than most of the other athletes competing season at the SPIRE Invitational in Geneva, Ohio this weekend.
Competing in the pentathlon for the first time this season, Akeredolu took fourth place with a lifetime best of 3,643 points. Though she wasn’t feeling her best physically, things have been turning around for her.
“For myself, individually, I feel like things are finally starting to click and come together,” Akeredolu said. “As a senior … I feel more mentally mature and able to handle everything at a competition level.”
Michigan coach James Henry’s mantra of continuing to improve — the overarching message that he tells his athletes while they practice and compete — has resonated with Akeredolu as she gets back to full health.
“It’s a matter of everyone continuing to improve and getting better as a team,” Henry said.
That attitude is what has gotten the Wolverines this far, and what they’re convinced will help them succeed at the peak event of their whole season, the upcoming Big Ten Championships at Nebraska on Feb. 24-25.
The team’s performance this weekend at the SPIRE Invitational was visible proof that it is continuing to improve.
Ten Wolverines placed top-five in their respective events and the 4×400-meter relay team took fifth in their event as well.
Henry said four athletes were crucial to the team’s success this weekend: junior Ada Unachukwu in the triple jump, junior Rebecca Addison in the half mile, and redshirt seniors Allison Liske and senior Emily Pendleton in shotput.
“Different areas did well, and I was happy that it’s continuing to come together,” Henry said.
Another strong performance came from sophomore Taylor Pogue. Pogue placed first in the 5,000m run with a lifetime best of 16:22.64, following a third-place finish in the mile last week.
“I wanted to do the 3k because I am running the 5k at Big Tens and I wanted one more solid race under my belt,” Pogue said. “So I felt good and I felt like I raced well and met my goal.”
Michigan knows what they want — a strong showing at the Big Ten Championships — and they are striving to put in the effort to achieve it.
“They understand that we are trying to get better as the weeks go on, to have the best possible timing and do our best when it most counts,” Henry said. “We have improved each week and if we continue to do that we should be proud of our performances at the Big Tens.”