To begin last season, the Michigan women”s track team tied Indiana to start the season. The tie was a victory of sorts for Michigan because Indiana had won the Big Ten title the previous year.
But Indiana coach Randy Heisler did not see last year”s result in the same light. On the Indiana athletic website, Heisler is quoted as saying “last season, we didn”t win and we didn”t lose. We tied, and that”s terrible.”
Michigan assistant coach Anne Takacs said she and the Michigan team did not see the tie as a problem.
“Tying is not terrible. Losing is worse,” Takacs said. “We obviously want to win. If we win, it could take the wind out of their sails heading into the Big Ten season. If we beat them, it stings more.”
The Wolverines will look to continue their hot start in Saturday”s rematch against the Hoosiers.
Michigan was successful this past weekend, winning 12 of 15 events in its first meet of the year. This meet will mark the start of Indiana”s season.
When the teams meet at the Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse in this heated conference clash, it will mark the seventh time since 1990 that the two teams have battled in a dual meet within the first two meets of the year. Last season, the Wolverines and Hoosiers deadlocked at 81 points.
Michigan may find a slight advantage this weekend from the scoring of the meet it will be international scoring. This means only the top two competitors from each team in each event will score thus, the teams are forced to have two competitors finish in every event. In this manner each event becomes more competitive making the meet”s scoring tighter.
Therefore, teams cannot put all their best athletes in one event
Historically in the conference, there are teams that can be seen as just distance teams, such as Wisconsin or Illinois. Michigan has been much more balanced, having many successful competitors in each event. This might be to Michigan”s advantage.
“If an event already has three or four good entries, at Michigan we can move them to other events, and in that way we become more diverse through training,” Takacs said.
Takacs believes that her Wolverines might be better this year than in years past.
“Our second performers in all events have stepped up,” Takacs said. “Our field events have improved, and we have more jumpers. Overall we have more to offer than last year.”
Michigan is led by April Phillips, who reached a new personal best last weekend by throwing the shot-put 52 feet and 4 inches. That ranks fourth in the nation currently and would land her a spot at the NCAA Championships in March. Senior Nicole DeNamur competes in the high jump, and can set a good tone for the season with jumps of five feet and eight inches or better.
Freshmen Sharifa Jones will make an impact in hurdles, sprints and the long jump.
“We have a good team. We need to keep getting better and we need people to come to our home meets,” Takacs said.
With a crucial meet in Indiana on the horizon, the team is looking to validate its belief that they are one of the best in the Big Ten. With a victory against a tough opponent, they can do just that.