Spearheaded by junior Geena Gall’s victory in the 800-meter run, the Michigan women’s track and field team finished fourth in the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Over the weekend, four Wolverines qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, including Gall, who set a personal best in the 800-meter run (2:03.64).
“Her performance stood out,” Michigan coach James Henry said. “She competed very well, and she showed that she is one of the top half-milers in the country.”
Michigan also had strong performances by junior co-captain Tiffany Ofili and senior co-captain Nicole Edwards on Saturday. Ofili finished second in the 100-meter hurdles (12.83 seconds), and Edwards took third in the 1500-meter run (4:18.78). By finishing in the top five in their respective events, both qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Junior Casey Taylor also qualified for nationals. Taylor finished second in the long jump Friday, leaping a personal best 21 feet, one-and-half inches. Gall, Ofili, Edwards and Taylor will join junior co-captain Bettie Wade, who had previously qualified in the heptathlon, at the NCAA Championships.
The team’s strong performance came despite competing in unfamiliar conditions, as the Arkansas heat proved to be as tough an obstacle for the Wolverines as their regional opponents.
“This was the first meet that we had all year in which it was hot and humid,” Henry said. “All year back in the Midwest, or wherever we competed, the weather has been cool and windy. So the first day I thought we handled it well, but overall the kids were just physically tired.”
It came as no surprise to Henry that the meet was dominated by warm-weather schools. Louisiana State finished first in the region, tallying an impressive 119 points over the weekend. The Tigers were followed in the standings by Tennessee (66 points) and Mississippi (49 points). Michigan placed the highest of any Midwestern school (41 points).
“I thought we had a very hard-fought final day,” Henry added. “But we were pleased with the performance we had overall.”
The five Wolverine qualifiers will next compete June 11-14 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.