If you happened to walk into the Michigan Indoor Track Building on Saturday morning, you might have been a bit confused. The results were standard enough, with superior runners like senior Sierra Hauser-Price and redshirt sophomore Rebecca Walter winning their events. But the difference was that they were winning events that most people hadn’t seen them run before.
Competing against a field of smaller schools — including Eastern Michigan, Siena Heights, Findlay, Detroit and Grand Valley State the Wolverines were able to easily win most events at the Jack Harvey Invitational. But for Michigan, this meet was less about competing in and winning specific events and more about just “getting the kinks out,” according to Michigan coach James Henry.
“We just wanted to see what cobwebs we have, what athletes we have and where our starting point is,” Henry said. “We continued to lift and train through this week, and we’ll use this meet as just that — a training meet.”
Henry was pleased with what he saw. His athletes were able to excel and dominate the competition, regularly finishing first in races that they don’t compete in during the season.
“I’m real happy with what I saw from many of the runners today,” Henry said. “We looked really good and came out with no injuries, which is the most important thing.”
Henry specifically mentioned runners Walter, Hauser-Price and Lindsey Gallo, along with high-jumper Stephanie Linz as having impressed him.
Walter ran the mile and finished with a personal best time of 4:51.54. But the mile is not her standard event. The cross country star usually runs the longer 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter races.
“The mile is actually one of my favorite races, and I was pleased with the way it went to day,” Walter said. “It’s good for my body to run shorter races sometimes, and it helps me work on my strength.”
Former basketball player Hauser-Price was also running in an event foreign to her. The senior sprinter — who usually competes in the 100-meter and 200-meter races — ran and won the 400-meter race. This was Hauser-Price’s first 400-meter competition, and it was also her first ever indoor track meet.
“I just wanted to get out there and be relaxed,” Hauser-Price said. “I definitely ran better than I expected to, but this race is really like an endurance workout for the 200-meter race.”
Redshirt junior Linz returned to the team for her first meet in over a year. The 2003 All-American high jumper had transferred to Oakland University to play volleyball last year, but began a successful return to the high-jump by winning the competition with a jump of 5-8. But Linz was not satisfied with her performance.
“I was really nervous coming back after taking a year off, a lot more nervous than I expected to be,” Linz said. “That’s probably the main reason I didn’t jump so well, just because I was nervous. But I’m sure I’ll be able to knock the kinks out soon and return to where I want to be.”
Gallo didn’t seem to have many kinks to knock out, as she dominated the 800-meter run with a time of 2:11.72. The fifth-year senior, whose best race is actually the mile, gained strength as the race went on, finishing her last 400 meters faster than her first.
While many of the runners on Saturday ran different races than they are used to, this is not something that they will continue to do.
“We had most of our runners running under their primary,” assistant coach Mike McGuire said. “These aren’t their top events, but they can use this to train and get better in those events.”
Henry said that many of the runners would back in their familiar place at the next meet, which will be the Kentucky Invitational next weekend in Lexington.