Junior Lindsey Gallo had Michigan’s best chance to bring
home an individual NCAA title, but in a fate cruelly similar Smarty
Jones’, she ran out of gas on the home stretch of the
1,500-meter final. After taking home the first two legs of her
triple crown — the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Mideast
Regional — Gallo was passed by two runners and finished in
fourth place at the NCAA Outdoor Championships on Saturday night in
Austin, Texas.

Entering the meet, Gallo was one of the favorites to win the
1,500-meter race having won the event at the Big Ten Championships
and the NCAA Mideast Regional.

“The regional meet was the breakout meet for Gallo,”
head coach James Henry said. “She was able to gain a lot of
confidence from that race that she could run with the best in the
country.”

Several aspects of Gallo’s performance at the Mideast
Regional were noteworthy. In that race she recorded a personal best
time just .06 seconds short of a school record and also defeated
eventual NCAA champion Tiffany McWilliams of Mississippi State.
After that race, Gallo and Henry felt she was capable of winning
the NCAA title and came into the meet with a mindset to win the
race.

“At regionals, I had a great race,” Gallo said.
“So coach and I decided to go for it.”

After making it through the preliminaries without any problems,
Gallo was ready for the final.

The race began with a faster than expected pace, led by
McWilliams. Gallo was able to stay with the lead group for most of
the race, but McWilliams pulled away in the last 600 meters. Like
Jones in the Belmont, Gallo struggled on the home stretch as two
other runners from the lead group passed her. Gallo did recover
enough to maintain fourth position and finish with a time of
4:15.33.

“The fast early pace caught up with me at the end,”
Gallo said. “I didn’t have much left at the end, but I
was happy that I at least went for it.”

The rest of the Michigan team, which only qualified five
athletes to compete in the championship, finished in a tie for 41st
place. However, three of the five Wolverines earned All-American
honors, led by Gallo.

“I was happy to see us enter the meet and make such a
strong field and compete,” Henry said. “(The athletes)
weren’t as happy they wanted to be, but overall, I am pleased
with how it turned out.”

The final meet of Lindsey Stephenson’s career was
bittersweet. Despite attaining her goal of All-American by making
it to the final nine javelin throwers, she was disappointed that
she was unable to make it to the awards podium — reserved for
the top eight finishers — and earn points for Michigan.

“(My performance) was average. Not well, not bad,”
Stephenson said. “You always want to do better and place
high. I really wanted to make it to that podium.”

The same goes for senior Melissa Bickett, who finished in 11th
place in the discus, but still earned All-American honors by being
among the top-eight American competitors.

“She had a very good career and four years at
Michigan,” Henry said. “At this event, it just
didn’t click for her.”

Other Wolverines who competed at the event were senior
quad-captain Vera Simms in the 400-meter hurdles and sophomore
Elizabeth Boyle in the pole vault. Both were unable to advance out
of the preliminary rounds and each finished 22nd in their
respective events.

As a whole, Henry felt a sense of disappointment from his
team.

“They wanted to make it to the podium and earn some points
for their team,” Henry said. “They went in with the
confidence and determination to get it done, but unfortunately, it
didn’t happen for us, so they are disappointed.”

Despite failing to win her race, Gallo was satisfied with the
progress she made this year and is excited about competing as a
senior next year.

“I’m not disappointed at all,” Gallo said.
“I’m happy with how my times have come down. I was
sixth at indoors and I improved on that. Plus, two of the girls who
finished ahead of me aren’t coming back next year so I am in
a good position to vie for the title next year.”

Likewise, Henry is enthusiastic about the team’s prospects
for next year.

“We don’t rebuild, we reload,” Henry said.
“It’s not about a great recruiting class, it’s
about a great returning class. I’m looking forward to next
year to see if they can step up.”

Ellerton: Michigan’s lone ranger in Texas: On the
men’s side of the NCAA Outdoor Championships, sophomore and
800-meter specialist Andrew Ellerton was the only athlete to
compete for Michigan. After cruising into the event final, Ellerton
finished in fifth-place with a time of 1:47.28.

“It didn’t quite go as well as I had hoped it would.
I knew to have a chance to win I had to position myself with the
leaders with 100 meters to go, and I didn’t do that,”
Ellerton said. “I made a couple of tactical mistakes and got
myself boxed in. I’ll learn from this and come back for next
year.”

Ellerton earned All-American status for the third time in his
career, and earned Michigan its only team points in the meet. With
his four points, the Wolverines finished in a tie for 50th place at
the meet.

At this point, Ellerton is undecided as to whether he will
pursue a berth to the U.S. Olympic trials like teammates Nick
Willis and Nate Brannen.

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