—–SOUTH BEND – This weekend, Katie Erdman’s performance at Notre Dame was comparable to Leonardo DiCaprio’s role in “Catch Me If You Can.”
Well, sort of.
Like DiCaprio, Erdman got out in front early, forcing her competition to “catch” her. Unlike DiCaprio, the All-American didn’t have to hide her identity or escape imprisonment. Also different from DiCaprio, Erdman evaded her competition by fending off Minnesota’s pesky Heather Doriden to win the event.
And in this situation, the reward couldn’t have been more worth it.
Erdman’s time of 2:04.21 was not only fast enough to claim the best half-mile time at the meet. It also marked the NCAA’s fastest 800-meter time in the nation this season as well.
Erdman felt having the fastest time in the country was a bonus, and that she would have been satisfied with the time regardless of where it stood in relation to others.
“It was a good race, but it would have been a good race even if (the run) was the sixth-fastest time in the country,” Erdman said. “It was a big improvement from what I’ve run this season.”
Though she led the race from start to finish, Doriden gave Erdman all she could handle. The Minnesota freshman turned it on down the homestretch and missed Erdman by just .09 seconds. Erdman’s time automatically qualified her for nationals and was just one of many solid Michigan performances in the non-scoring event.
To put her performance in perspective, Erdman’s time was so fast that Dorniden, the runner-up in the 800-meter, now holds the country’s second-fastest time in the event. Freshman Geena Gall, who came in third place, finished in 2:05.23, and her time stands as the nation’s fourth fastest.
Michigan’s distance medley relay team, composed of Erdman, sophomores Laura Glynn and Nicole Edwards and Gall, also emerged victorious, clocking in at 11:06.10 – nearly four seconds better than the next-closest team. The team’s time was also fast enough to be an automatic qualifying time, securing a spot at nationals. Junior Rebecca Walter, who won the 5,000-meter run, also hit the automatic mark for nationals with a time of 16:08.91.
“I’m happy about (qualifying),” Walter said. “I’ve been a spectator a few times at nationals, so I really wanted to be there. Now that I have that done, I can just worry about training.”
Even though the team won just three events, there were plenty more worth mentioning.
Sophomore Alyson Kohlmeier picked up a provisional qualification for nationals, finishing second behind Walter in the 5,000-meter run at 16:13.35.
Edwards took second place in the mile run with a time of 4:41.21. Her time wasn’t quite good enough to win, but it is the nation’s third fastest mile so far this season. She also met the provisional qualifying time for the nationals.
“I’m so excited that I ran so fast,” said Edwards. “The (DMR) was my main focus for the weekend. Doubling in the mile, I was relaxed today, because I knew the race would be a test for me to see how well I could hold up, and it went really well.”
Junior Chanelle Campbell took second place in the 300-meter dash with a time of 40.65, about a second and a half behind Illinois’ Yvonne Mensah. Despite the fact that the 4×400-meter relay team came in third place behind Western Michigan and Illinois, it broke a school record by finishing with a time of 3:41.90. Freshman Amber Hay, Campbell, Gall, and Erdman comprised the team.
The results Michigan put together were hoped for, but they weren’t necessarily expected.
“The performances we put up were much better than anticipated,” Michigan coach James Henry said. “But our overall goal for every athlete is to improve – no matter whether you are at the top, the bottom, or the middle – you have to improve. We have a very good team, but we just need to stay focused. If we continue to do that, everything else will take care of itself.”