Senior Nicole Edwards and junior Tiffany Ofili could not have run faster out of the cold weather.
A four-year member of the 4,000-meter distance medley relay (DMR), Edwards anchored her team in the mile for a victory at Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational. In Edwards’s career, her DMR at the Invitational has given her a reason to smile. Each season, her team has posted an NCAA qualifying time.
But this year, the race proved to be anything but ordinary.
The Wolverines shattered their own 2007 DMR course record by three seconds Friday at the Loftus Center and recorded the fastest time in the nation this season (11:01:51). The victory gave Michigan one of its five first-place finishes in the two-day, 24-event non-scoring invitational.
“We know we’ve had a history of performing well at this meet – in particular, at this relay,” Michigan associate head coach Mike McGuire said. “We kind of just met this standard that previous teams had set.”
Freshman Danielle Tauro got things started in the 1,200-meter leg. Tauro hung back from the leader most of the leg but gained a five-yard advantage before the handoff to senior Serita Williams. Quickly passed by two runners, Williams stormed back to nearly regain the lead for her fastest ever 400-meter split.
Junior Geena Gall took the baton in the 800-meter frame and pulled ahead of Iowa by a huge margin. Gall ran mostly uncontested and Edwards did the same for the final portion.
The women set a new school record in the DMR, breaking a time (11:03.28) that won the NCAA national title for the Wolverines in 1998.
“It’s definitely rewarding to have this year be my senior year, and we’re running the fastest,” Edwards said. “We’re going to be going for the win again at Nationals and that’s really exciting.”
The distance runners weren’t the only Wolverines checking in with top times.
On Saturday, Ofili bettered her own previous school record in the 60-meter hurdles (8.04 seconds) for the second time this season. The junior blew away sprinters from Mississippi, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan State.
Williams took her 400-meter speed to the individual dash with a fifth-place finish. She grabbed an NCAA provisional time, just missing the qualifying time by .3 seconds.
“We definitely put a big time on the board, but we have to come out bigger than that at Nationals,” McGuire said. “We realize that, in time, we’ll be capable of a faster performance.”
The sole purpose of the non-scoring meet was to qualify as many runners, throwers and jumpers as possible for the NCAA Indoor Championships, scheduled for March 14-15 at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Wolverines took four NCAA provisional and two qualifying times even without their head coach. In California for a recruiting trip, Michigan coach James Henry wasn’t there to lead his team, but the Wolverines stepped up without him.