Claiming first place in the Big Ten conference and 13th in the NCAA Indoor Championship was “great” for the Michigan women’s track and field team, junior Katie Erdman said. With the beginning of the outdoor season on the horizon in addition to Michigan’s victory in the Big Ten cross country and indoor champions, the Wolverines are on the verge of earning a triple crown this year.

“We are definitely on the right path,” Michigan coach James Henry said. “We are two-thirds of the way there. We just need to win outdoor.”

Henry earned his sixth Big Ten Coach of the Year honor this season. This is his 11th time winning the award in 21 years at the helm of the Michigan women’s track and field team. Henry has won seven of the last eight Big Ten Coach of the Year awards, leading Michigan to three of the last four indoor titles and three straight outdoor crowns.

The Wolverines have proven they’re capable of winning another outdoor crown with their indoor performance.

But with Illinois, Minnesota and Penn State on its tail, Michigan needs to finish strong.

“A triple crown this year will be hard to do, especially with this season,” Erdman said. “The Big Ten is a good conference this year. To get a triple crown while the other Big Ten teams are doing well — it’ll be great.”

Erdman gained a unique perspective of her team since she sat out the indoor season because of a stress fracture in her foot. She’s been watching and supporting her teammates and feels that the runners have proven themselves an immense force — both collectively and individually.

“I am impressed with the good team we have,” Erdman said. “I see my teammates in practice and I think they are great. But seeing them run against other great teams and win — it means so much more.”

Watching her team do so well motivates Erdman to continue her recovery. She is excited to conclude her recuperation and get back on the track.

“I know I will not get to run in these first meets, but I am working hard to get better so that I can help my teammates in outdoor,” Erdman said. “I should be out there by midseason.”

Recuperation for the 2004 Two-time NCAA Indoor All-America runner is more than building up the muscle strength in her foot to train. Erdman said she has to get her body back in to shape. And her healing depends solely on personal athletic recovery.

“The unique aspects of track is the uninhibitedly of the sport. It is an individual sport,” Erdman said. “But at the same time, your times are affected by others’ performance as well.”

In relays, for example, improving one’s team performance sometimes requires humbling your individual performance to improve the overall team effect. As Erdman said, “balance is the key.”

Fifth-year senior Lindsay Gallo provides balance to the team. This weekend, rather than resting up for her mile race, Gallo was dedicated to running in the distance medley relay at the NCAA Indoor Championship.

“Relays are very unique,” Gallo said. “I wanted to run the medley because I’ll never get a chance to do it again in the indoor season.”

Shortly after running in the mile preliminaries, Gallo ran anchor in the medley, which won first place.

Less than 24 hours later, she was back on the track running the mile, and she finished third. She finished the 2005 indoor season with two All-America honors, giving her four career All-America track citations for the indoor season and one for outdoor.

Regardless of Gallo’s performance, Henry said the team as a whole could have accumulated more points.

“We did sacrifice points overall in the NCAA Championships,” Henry said. “For example, Edwards could’ve run the half-mile, which would’ve given us more points, and Gallo could’ve been fresher in the mile. But she wanted to be there for her team.

“Overall, I am happy with the group performance,” Henry said. “This has been a long season. It has been full of physical and emotional downs.

“We need to rest and get healthy really early in the outdoor season.”

But the Wolverines won’t have much time to rest. Their outdoor season begins this weekend at the Florida State Relays in Tallahassee, Fla.

 

 

 

 

 

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