After a tremendous start to the season, the Michigan women”s track team will have its stiffest test yet as it travels to Penn State for the Big Ten Indoor Championships this weekend.

The Wolverines should be familiar with the track at State College, having competed in a 12-team meet there just two weeks ago. In that gathering, Michigan finished in second place, losing only to conference rival Indiana. The loss was the Wolverines” second of the season to the Hoosiers. They dropped a one-point decision in a dual meet to Indiana on Jan. 12 in Bloomington.

Last year Michigan finished in fourth place at the Big Ten indoor meet, totaling 89 points and producing two individual champions. Current tri-captain Katie Jazwinski won the 5,000-meters, and she is hoping to set an example with a repeat performance. The other individual winner last season was Rachel Sturtz, who won the 800-meter race. She will be back to defend her title this season.

The team completed its home slate last weekend, competing in the non-scoring Harold Silverston Invitational. The Wolverines finished strong, getting a personal best jump from Anna Fisher, who cleared 12 feet in the pole vault. Ursula Taylor took first place in the 600-meter run while recording the fastest time in that event in the Big Ten this season.

Tri-captain April Phillips also continued her tremendous season, winning the weight throw event and breaking her own school record for the sixth straight week as well as setting the Indoor Track building record. Phillips was also victorious in the shot put for the fourth consecutive week. After weeks of downplaying her success, Phillips is beginning to focus on personal goals.

“My year continues to amaze me, and the wonderful thing is that I know I have not hit my peak, and I know it is in me to do better,” Phillips said. “Maybe I have been storing it all up for this weekend. Maybe we all have been saving it up for this weekend.”

But as captain, Phillips also is concerned with her team, and must convince it that Michigan”s two previous losses to Indiana do not mean a third is inevitable.

“The last few times we”ve competed against (Indiana) we took top places in events that were not scored,” Phillips said. “We have been putting one or two runners in each event to keep everyone active and focused. But at the conference championship our best athletes will run in two or three events if it”s in the team”s best interest.”

The team will also get a lift from its third tri-captain, Breanne Tenclay. Tenclay competes in the pentathlon, a competition that mandates success in five different events. The pentathlon event has not been held so far this season, so Tenclay will have her first chance to showcase her skills.

“Multi-events (like the pentathlon) are a long process,” Tenclay said. “It is hard to train for all five events. There are only so many hours in a day, but I am finally getting confident and ready for the competition.”

Tenclay, now a senior, was a freshman when her team finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships.

“This is our best team since my freshmen year, and in fact, this team might be better,” Tenclay said. “Our performance is peaking, and if we can do what our potential shows, then we”ll be great. It is most important to make it out of the day-one preliminaries, so everyone gets into the final day.”

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