Talk about dedication. With five of its members preparing to
participate in the NCAA Indoor Championships, the Michigan
women’s track and field team had a choice to make —
hang out in Ann Arbor or follow their teammates to Fayetteville,
Ark. After a 13-hour drive, about 30 Wolverines found themselves at
Arkansas’ Randal Tyson Track, ready to make some noise and
motivate their teammates.

Ryan Nowak
Lindsay Gallo ran a personal-best time of 4:40.66 this weekend at the NCAA Indoor Track Championships. (RYAN WEINER/Daily)

“We had the most fans other than (host) Arkansas,”
redshirt junior Lindsey Gallo said.

Just hearing her name announced as one of 10 finalists in the
one-mile run, Gallo felt that her running career had come full
circle.

“It was the coolest feeling,” Gallo said.
“I’ve been running since seventh grade, all to get to
that point.”

The race was anything but routine. After jumping out to an early
lead, Gallo slipped all the way to seventh place. On the final lap,
Gallo’s worst nightmare almost came true. Notre Dame’s
Lauren King and Virginia Tech’s Marlies Overbeeke collided
and fell to the track, right in front of Gallo. Caught in
mid-stride, Gallo was just able to avoid her two competitors,
staying on her feet and finishing with a career-best time of
4:40.66. Her sixth-place performance earned her All-America honors
in the event.

“I didn’t come this far to fall in the
finals,” Gallo said.

After Gallo’s strong performance, sophomore Katie Erdman
took to the track. Coming in with the nation’s seventh-best
time in the 800-meter run, Erdman ran the race of her life. After
jumping out to an early lead, she remained near the front of the
pack throughout. Erdman finished in third, good enough for
All-American status and setting a Michigan school record in the
event (2:04.41).

“It feels pretty good (to be an All-American),”
Erdman said. “It’s something we’ve been shooting
for all season.”

The NCAA Championships were nothing new for Gallo and Erdman.
After attending the competition together last year, the two had
been dreaming about getting another shot.

“We’ve been working out together,” Gallo said.
“It is really satisfying for me to see Katie run so well.
We’ve been talking about (the NCAA Championships) all year
and getting pumped up.”

Gallo and Erdman also competed in the distance medley relay. The
Michigan foursome, which also included senior Carly Knazze and
junior Theresa Feldkamp, turned in a time of 11:13.30. Despite
earning All-America honors with a seventh-place finish, the
Wolverines couldn’t help but be a little frustrated. Due to
the schedule of the meet, both Erdman and Gallo had run intense
qualifying races the same day as the relay.

Rounding out Michigan’s five-athlete field, junior
Jennifer Kulchar placed 17th in the high jump, with a 5-foot 8-inch
leap. Just making it to the nationals was special for Kulchar, who
was not expected to earn an invitation to the meet.

“It was a big surprise,” Michigan coach James Henry
said. “We didn’t think that her height would have
gotten in.”

Following a disappointing second-place finish at the Big Ten
Championships, Michigan finished with 11 points at the NCAAs. The
19th-place finish marks the team’s best performance in the
meet since 1998.

“I was really proud with everyone that performed,”
Henry said. “The returning athletes stepped up.”

Overall, the team felt that the trip to Fayetteville was a
positive experience. The Wolverines earned six All-America titles
and were able to make some noise nationally. Above all, it was a
learning experience.

“The group of ladies that did go to the nationals were
leaders in their respective events,” Henry said. “It
shows the girls who didn’t go that they can, one day, compete
at the national level.”

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