It was a weekend of triumphs and disappointments for the Michigan women’s track and field team at the inaugural NCAA Mideast Regional Championships in Columbus. While four athletes earned a trip to the NCAA Championships, an untimely injury forced four others to watch from the sidelines.
A hamstring injury suffered by sophomore Sierra Hauser-Price in the 100-meter dash caused the 4×100-meter relay team to miss the finals of the event. Also, according to NCAA Regional regulations, the other members of the squad were expected to report to the officials at the line before the start of the race. When those athletes unknowingly failed to do so, they were disqualified from all events for the remainder of the day. Because this was the first time the Wolverines competed in the new Mideast Regional, the coaches were also unaware of the rule.
This was a major setback for the sprinters, who had done very well up to that point. The penalty prevented juniors Carly Knazze and Vera Simms from participating in the finals of the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter hurdles, respectively.
“This was the first time that rule was applied in my 24 years of coaching,” Michigan coach James Henry said. “I didn’t do my homework and I take full responsibility for it. I feel terrible for Carly and Vera, who worked so hard to get to that point.”
On a brighter note, seniors April Phillips and Melissa Bickett captured the top two spots in the finals of the hammer throw. Phillips, who had a winning toss of 199’2″, also won the shot put title and will compete in both events at the NCAA Championships. Bickett placed second in the discus finals with a heave of 167’1″ and earned a third in the shot put finals. She will be representing Michigan in all three events at the championship meet.
Freshman Rebecca Walter and sophomore Stephanie Linz also qualified for the NCAA Championships. Walter overcame the cold weather to finish fourth in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 16:40, while Linz unexpectedly captured the high jump title with a leap of 5’10 1/2″.
“The four athletes are in a good position to do well at the national level,” Henry said. “It’s a chance for them to shine individually. I think the throwers, in particular, will lead the way for us.”
The four qualifiers will have a week off before they head to Sacramento, Calif. to participate in the national championships.