Senior tri-captain April Phillips has consistently been one of the top performers for the Michigan women’s track and field team this season, so usually no one is surprised when she captures a first-place finish.
But this weekend at Penn State, Phillips’ exceeded expectations. She broke school records in both the shot put (54-7 1/4 feet) and the weight throw (63-1 1/4 feet). Phillips’ performance in the shot put gave her an automatic bid to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, and her first place finish in the weight throw was good enough for a provisional qualifier to NCAAs.
“She made a decision that she was going to raise her game and take the next step into the national picture,” said Phillips’ throwing coach, Anne Takacs-Greib.
“She wanted to break the school record and automatically qualify for nationals and she didn’t want to wait for Big Tens to do it. She had the best week of practice I think she has ever had and it paid off for her.”
Two other Wolverines also broke school records this weekend.
In the pole vault, freshman Elizabeth Boyle shattered her own school record when she cleared 12-11 1/2.
In weeks past, Boyle had come incredibly close to the record, and this time she conquered her goal.
Boyle was happy and also very gracious about her performance.
“It was a nice surprise … I couldn’t have done it without the support of my teammates and the coaches,” Boyle said.
Boyle’s and Phillips’ dominance in the field events have been key components in all three of the team victories the Wolverines have posted this season.
The distance events have treated the Wolverines very well all season, and it continued over the weekend. In the 800-meter run, senior tri-captain Rachel Sturtz broke the last of the four school records when she completed the race at a time of 2:06.79, a NCAA provisional time. Sturtz’s time currently stands as the sixth fastest in the nation.
Finishing right behind Sturtz was sophomore Theresa Feldkamp (2:08.55), who also ran well enough for a NCAA provisional qualifier.
Freshman Katie Erdman captured first place in the 600-meter run with a time of 1:30.91. Although this time was not quite good enough to break yet another school record for the Wolverines (she was just .27 off the record), it was the fastest time for the 600-meter run in the Big Ten this season.
Rounding out the Wolverines victories in the distance events was junior Lindsay Gallo in the 3,000-meter run. Gallo’s time of 9:35.05 earned her an NCAA provisional qualifier.
Gallo said she was happy with her performance but added that she was not running against the highest level of competition, which always makes her run a better time.
“I think that I can run a lot faster than I did this weekend,” Gallo said.
The Wolverines are simply rolling right now. This victory at the Sykes-Sabok Challenge Cup was their third team victory in as many meets. They finished with a score of 172 points, well ahead of second-place Penn State (122) and the remaining eight teams.