For the Michigan women’s track team’s opening outdoor meet of the year, it traveled west to Los Angeles, Calif. for the USC Trojan Invitational and gave what coach James Henry called “a sluggish performance.”
In the non-scoring meet, Michigan competed against athletes from Oregon, Texas A&M, Washington and USC, but looked a step behind throughout the weekend.
There were a few bright spots for the team, though. Fifth-year senior Emily Pendleton emerged victorious in the shot put with a toss of 15.33 meters and finished a runner-up in the discus with a distance of 52.52 meters. Pendleton’s commanding performance motivated her sister, junior Erin Pendleton, who finished in third place in the discus and fifth place in the shot put. Despite Emily’s strong showing, she said, the transition to outdoors was still and adjustment.
“Coming into any outdoor season, you have to get used to traveling, and it takes a little longer for your body to adjust,” Emily said. “As the season goes on, I think we adjust and get better at this.”
Henry was the first to admit to Michigan’s sub-par performance but believes that as the season moves onward, Michigan can reach its full potential. He was pleased that the team was healthy but trusts that the time difference was the only factor that was holding them back from their best performance.
“We didn’t have our feet up underneath us, (and we weren’t) looking like our normal selves,” Henry said. “We always looked a foot behind, but I think we came out unscathed and we had a performance that I think was good enough to stand out.”
Michigan also had an impressive performance from senior Brianna Jenkins, who returned to the track for the first time since a debilitating tear to her ACL meniscus. Jenkins jumped 1.65 meters to finish fifth in a solid and reassuring comback.
“Personally, I wish I would have done a little better but I am pretty OK. with how I did,” Jenkins said. “It was my first outdoor meet, and I had a rough season coming back from a pretty serious injury.”
Jenkins was anxious to return to center stage, noting that it was hard to sit from the sidelines watching and wishing she could take part.
Sophomore Alex Leptich also had an exciting performance, recording a personal-best of 9:39.89 in the 3,000-meter run. Finishing second, Leptich believed it was a good way to start off the season.
“I ran the middle just how I planned it, but I didn’t finish as well as I would have liked,” Leptich said. “I want to follow through at the end of the race, but I didn’t make a bold enough move to accomplish that.”
Michigan’s next meet is at the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta, Ga. on Friday.