Three”s company for the Michigan women”s track team.
The trio of Katie Jazwinski, Rachel Sturtz and Nicole Denamur led the Wolverines with three first-place finishes, helping Michigan to a fourth-place finish overall at this weekend”s Big Ten Championships in Bloomington. Michigan”s 99 1/4 points trailed Indiana (140), Purdue (122 1/5) and Minnesota (101 1/4).
Jazwinski defended her title as Big Ten 3,000-meter champion from last year, making her the first Michigan athlete to win consecutive conference titles in the event. Clocking a time of 9:35.43, Jazwinski finished over nine seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
Just a sophomore, Rachel Sturtz ran a blistering 2:07.76 to win the 800-meter dash. Her time broke the previous existing Big Ten record set by Wisconsin”s Laurie Rabideau in 1987 by over five seconds, and was 1.08 seconds faster than the next competitor.
Michigan assistant coach Mike McGuire, who works with the distance runners on a daily basis, labeled Sturtz and Jazwinski as “the kind of people who have been leading the parade all year long, and it”s no different here.”
On the field, Denamur”s effort of 5-8 1/2 in the high jump tied those of Penn State”s Jen Aylward and Iowa”s Kacey Childs, but Denamur, also a sophomore, prevailed as champion as she had the least amount of misses.
In addition to three first-place finishes, the Wolverines had enough depth in other events to finish in the top half of the Big Ten.
“The goal is to beat bodies,” Michigan coach James Henry said. “The more bodies we beat, the more points we get.”
An efficient way to score more points is to place in the top eight of more than one event. Michigan had three athletes score in double events to advance in the team score.
Sophomore Carly Knazze finished fourth in both the 400-meter dash and the 200-meter dash, running 53.46 and 23.47, respectively, while sophomore April Phillips tossed 174-0 to finish fourth in the hammer throw, and finished third in the shot put with an effort of 50-4. Jazwinski also finished runner-up in the 1,500-meter run.
Also performing well for the Wolverines were Tasha Phillips, who finished third in the heptahlon with 4,807 points, Teyonna Simpson, who finished third in the triple jump with a leap of 41-01 1/4, and Melissa Bickett, who”s toss of 171-03 in the discus was good for third place.