FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Going into the NCAA Indoor Championships, Michigan women’s track and field coach James Henry said he didn’t expect the Wolverines to win the national title, but rather “expecting to do well.”
Henry can’t be too upset with the results his team put up over the weekend in Arkansas.
The team wasn’t able to win any events, but by placing in the top eight in five different races, Michigan placed 13th overall with 17 points. Seven Wolverines earned All-American recognition during the weekend for their performances – including sophomore Nicole Edwards and redshirt junior Katie Erdman.
On paper, the team’s finishes look good. But it was clear in some cases the athletes felt they could have placed better.
“I know the results weren’t what they were looking for, but I was proud,” Henry said. “It turned out to be just an average day for the girls, and in this kind of meet, you need outstanding performances.”
The distance medley relay provided the team’s highest finish. Erdman, Edward and freshmen Amber Hay and Geena Hall finished 11:14.47, barely holding off Baylor and Villanova for fourth place.
The relay came after Erdman, Gall and Edwards had already run in preliminary events, possibly tiring them for the DMR.
“We rolled the dice a little bit by using people in the medley that had run in previous performances,” distance coach Mike McGuire said. “It definitely took its toll on Erdman and Edwards, but there were other teams that did the same thing, so it wasn’t something that was unique to our situation.”
The 5,000-meter relay provided seven points for the team. Sophomore Alyson Kohlmeier and junior Erin Webster took fifth and sixth place, respectively, in the race. Kohlmeier and Webster nearly came in at the same time, with Kohlmeier finishing at 16:00.86, and Webster coming in at 16:00.95. After starting at a very quick pace, junior Rebecca Walter finished 11th in the field, with a time of 16:24. Kohlmeier and Webster were both named All-Americans for their performances in the event.
Webster, who at one point was 15th out of 17 runners, held her pace and continued to move up in the field. She took advantage of the fact that many runners did not pace themselves well.
“I think had we gone out slower, the times would have been a little bit faster,” Webster said. “(The pace) made the last kilometer more difficult. And instead of going faster at the end, we all went slower.”
Edwards was able to put together a sixth-place performance in the mile (4:42.67). With about three laps to go, she neither gained nor lost ground and held her sixth-place spot. The finish earned the Wolverines three points.
“I was fairly tired during the race,” Edwards said. “I was ranked seventh (going into the race), so sixth place is moving up. I ran a decent time while I was tired, so I am satisfied.”
Erdman also picked up an All-American honor with her seventh-place finish in the 800-meter run. Her time of 2:08.21 earned Michigan two points for the meet.
Senior Jennifer Williams set a new personal best with 4,028 points in the pentathlon. She was also named an All-American, finishing ninth among the field. Freshman Bettie Wade came up with 3,917 and placed 14th in the competition.
After one season of hard work and the outdoor season right around the corner, there is one thing this team needs more than anything.
“We need to rest,” Henry said. “This has been a physical and emotional high for us. Two are down, with one to go. We won (Big Ten titles in) cross country and indoor track. Now we’re just looking forward to beginning the journey for the triple crown, and it will probably be harder than anything we’ve accomplished thus far.”