Before the NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend, one could’ve argued junior Tiffany Ofili was one of the fastest female athletes ever to don the Maize and Blue.
But after the co-captain smashed her own school record by one tenth of a second to secure the 60-meter hurdles title in 7.94 seconds, Ofili proved she might be one of the greatest Michigan athletes of all time.
“She is the greatest athlete that we’ve developed into, I believe, a world-class performer,” Michigan coach James Henry said.
Ofili now has two NCAA Championships under her belt. She also won the 100-meter hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Championship last spring.
Ofili’s All-American performance sparked Michigan’s best-ever finish at the NCAAs and tallied 10 of the team’s 39 points in the Wolverines’ third-place finish.
Though Ofili didn’t start the day off the way she would have liked, finishing third in her qualifying heat (8.07 seconds), it was nothing new for the All-American.
“She has a tendency to relax a little too much in the preliminary,” Henry said. “Her history is to not give her very best when it’s not the final.”
That desperation worked again, and the rest of the team followed her lead.
Three more Wolverines walked away with All-America honors – junior Bettie Wade (pentathlon), senior Nicole Edwards (mile run) and junior Geena Gall (800-meter run).
Wade placed first in the high jump (5-11 1/4 feet) and third in the shot put (43-3 3/4 feet) to secure a second-place finish and set a new personal best in the pentathlon (4366 points).
Edwards, who won the mile run at the Big Ten Championships (4:41.04), just missed out on a national title by .44 seconds after running the mile more than five seconds faster (4:35.74) than her time at Big Tens.
She also ran anchor for the distance medley relay team and once again just missed capturing first place. The team finished .25 seconds behind the winner.
“Nicole felt that she let the team down,” Henry said. “I do think that she felt she let the team down because it happened to her twice.”
On the positive side, Edwards received All-American honors in the mile for the third straight year and capped off her indoor career as the school’s record holder in the event.
Prior to this weekend, the Wolverines’ best finish at the Indoor Championships was fifth in 1998.
But with Ofili and the three other All-Americans’ effort, the Wolverines achieved their primary objective of the season – to finish higher at Nationals than any other Wolverine team in history.
“Our goal this past year was to place in the top-four nationally because we thought we had the personnel for it,” Henry said. “(We also wanted) to win the Big Ten, but we will sacrifice the Big Ten to keep people as healthy and as fresh as possible to go after a top-four finish. And that’s what we did.”