It’s only January and the Michigan women’s track and field team’s practices have focused more on stamina than speed.
In competition though, senior Nicole Edwards and her teammates are already starting to hit their stride.
Behind a pair of victories from their senior co-captain, the Wolverines took first place with 170 points in the Akron Quad Friday, topping the closest team by 32 points.
Edwards ran the mile in 4:38.22, besting teammate and second-place finisher, junior Geena Gall, by more than 17 seconds. The time was good enough to knock two seconds off the Michigan indoor mile record and earn Edwards an automatic berth in the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Edwards was happy to get the qualification mark, but even more pleased to have run a fast, solid race in the team’s first scoring meet.
“We’re still trying to build a base of mileage and strength early in the season,” she said.
The Winnipeg, Manitoba native surprised even herself by retaining enough stamina to get back on the track and and win the 800-meter run later in the meet.
“After the mile I was pretty tired, and I just assumed I’d feel terrible during the 800 because of that,” Edwards said. “But when I got out there, I actually felt pretty good, and I think I might have even been a little too conservative.”
Gall finished second behind Edwards in the 800 too, this time crossing the line less than a second behind. Both runners notched NCAA provisional qualifying times.
The distance races weren’t Michigan’s only strong point. The Wolverines showed impressive balance in winning eight of the meet’s 14 events.
Senior Serita Williams and sophomore Charnee Lumbus won the 400-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles, respectively.
“Across the board, the team knew that beating bodies was important,” Michigan coach James Henry said. “It was a pleasant surprise to see that they were willing to step up and perform this early in the year.”
Junior Casey Taylor claimed victory in both the long jump and the triple jump, and junior Bettie Wade won the high jump for the second straight week.
The strong showing in the field events was especially encouraging because the team has spent little practice time working on technique in the field events.
“We’re still in the strength and endurance part of our training, and to still perform well is a good sign for the rest of the season,” Henry said.