With just three meets remaining before Big Ten Championships, the women’s track and field team wanted to use this past weekend as a checkpoint. At this time of the year, the Wolverines expect to gather momentum, record personal and season bests and make sure everything is running smoothly.
On Friday and Saturday, Michigan confirmed all of these things. The Wolverines split up, with part of the team traveling to East Lansing for the Spartan Invitational and the rest heading down to Knoxville, Tenn., for the Sea Ray Relays.
At the Relays, Michigan claimed two titles and broke a school record in the process. The 4×800-meter team of freshman Geena Gall, sophomore Nicole Edwards, junior Katie Erdman and senior Theresa Feldkamp finished more than three seconds in front of the second-place team from Villanova and broke the school-record time by almost the same amount, finishing in 8:30.65. Erdman and Edwards also participated on last year’s record-setting team, which established a mark of 8:33.36 at the Drake Relays.
The Wolverines also set the standard in the distance medley relay, an event in which Michigan won the indoor national championship last year. This year’s team featured a totally different cast – as none of its members ran on last year’s squad – but finished with the same result. Sophomore Alyson Kohlmeier started the race and ran the 1,200-meter leg. She was followed by junior Chanelle Campbell and freshman Amber Hay, who ran the 400- and 800-meter distances, respectively. Junior Erin Webster ran the 1,600-meter anchor leg, and the team finished in a time of 11:29.59.
“Winning (the) relays was a neat thing to do, and I thought the conditions on Friday were not the greatest,” associate head coach Mike McGuire said through the athletic department. “It was hot and windy, but it didn’t detract from our efforts, and I was pleased in that regard. Then, today, the conditions were a little better, and, in the DMR, Aly Kohlmeier got us off to a great lead. It gave Erin and Aly a chance to run on the relay, and they did a good job.”
The Wolverines also passed their checkup in the field events. Freshmen Casey Taylor and Tiffany Ofili both reached personal bests in the long jump – Taylor with a jump of 19-5 1/2 and Ofili with a distance of 19-1 1/2.
At the Ralph Young Track and Field Facility in East Lansing, junior Kelly Catino won the pole vault, reaching an NCAA Regional qualifying mark with a clearance of 12-5 1/2. It was a career best for Catino. Junior Kristen Pearson and freshman Lisa Sonntag finished right behind, tying for second with career-best clearances of 11-7 3/4.
Junior Jamie Barbour was up to the task in three impressive events. Barbour took second, fifth and seventh place in the hammer, shot put and discus, respectively. Her distance of 168-0 in the hammer throw was a career best, and her throw of 137-0 in the discus was a season best.
“It’s important for us right now because we have basically three meets left before the Big Tens,” assistant coach Anne Takacs said through the athletic department. “It’s important that they’re stepping up in each performance that they have and getting closer to regional marks; that’s what we’re looking for. The fact that we’re having personal bests and season bests is good.”
The Wolverines will compete at the EMU Twilight next weekend in Ypsilanti.