Now it matters.

Speed and stamina are a must.

Possessing one of the top three fastest NCAA tracks, Penn State invites the Michigan women”s track team to the Nittany Lion Qualifier tomorrow and Saturday.

As the first qualifying meet of the season, competition could be fierce. With Big Tens and the NCAA Championships on the horizon, many athletes are looking to qualify for bigger competitions at this weekend”s meet.

What could be considered as a pre-Big Tens, the Wolverines will get a chance to see how they compare with some higher-ranked conference teams before they meet them in duals later this year.

“The top four or five teams from the conference will be at this meet,” Michigan coach James Henry said. “We have expectations that most athletes will run their personal bests.”

Hopefully, the Wolverines will not remain in the shadow of last week”s disappointing performance. A loss to Purdue might have adjusted the Wolverines” outlook on how they”ll fare against other Big Ten teams this season.

“We hope to be in the mix of it,” Henry said regarding placement. “Considering that it”s a scoring competition with 10 other teams, we are trying to finish in the top three or four. We”ve geared ourselves up for this meet.”

Keeping this in mind, time serves as a greater focus this weekend. What the Wolverines do not know is how fast other teams are or might be.

Penn State is described as being an improved team, but, how much, no one knows.

In track and field, teams are constantly reevaluated and any difference could change their appearance.

“Penn State is an outstanding team in the conference and they have a brand new facility,” Henry said.

Another team that could play a factor is Georgetown.

Currently, the Bulldogs have a strong distance and middle distance program.

In comparison, the Wolverines have a balanced program between sprints and distance.

Having these similarities, Georgetown will probably try to upset the Wolverines during the distance portion. But Michigan should be healthy enough to return many of the runners who ran so strongly through cross country season.

Factoring in Ohio State, the Wolverines should expect a close challenge during the 1600-meter relay. Restoring experienced runners back into the lineup, Henry might lessen the load for each runner competing in the race.

“Ohio State”s strength is in sprints and hurdles,” Henry said.

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