Michigan coach James Henry has a saying for the Michigan women’s track and field team: Put in the work in January so you can see the results in February.
And February has been good to the team — very good.
The Wolverines took home an impressive five titles at the non-scoring GVSU Big Meet. This weekend was the first time this season that Michigan has split up — a small group of throwers traveled to the Akron Invitational while the rest of the athletes competed in Allendale, Michigan.
Standout sophomore mid-distance runner Rebecca Addison qualified for her second NCAA event of the season with a win in the 800-meter along with sophomore Jillian Smith. Addison’s time of 2:03:79 was .38 seconds away from breaking the school record. She and Smith were the first athletes to receive automatic times in individual events this season.
“The expectation is to give the best performances of the year,” Henry said. “(Addison and Smith) are in the position to compete with some of the best competition in the country and they’re turning into young but experienced veterans.”
Addison’s victory came after the announcement that she was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week, marking the first time a Wolverine has won that title since 2009. This honor followed Addison’s success last week at the Meyo Invitational, where she ran the NCAAs third fastest time of the season in the mile run.
In similar fashion to last week’s invitational at Notre Dame, the Wolverines ran on a 300-meter track as opposed to the traditional 200-meter track found in most indoor track buildings. The 300-meter allows runners to gain more speed on the straightaway.
“For a lot of people (the 300-meter track) really helped out their event and their times were a lot faster,” said Cole, who set a new personal record after winning the 200-meter dash.
Senior captain Danielle Tauro gave Michigan its sixth consecutive victory in the mile run. Freshmen Taylor Pogue and Alex Leptich also finished in the top 10.
Michigan’s throwers took the opportunity to throw the discus in the Akron Invitational, an event that was not offered at Grand Valley State. Senior Emily Pendleton took third place in the gold division as an independent. Pendleton was the only Michigan competitor to throw farther then 50 meters. Her freshman teammate Kari Prena placed third in the blue division.
The Grand Valley State meet marked the last time many of the Wolverines’ athletes will compete before the Big Ten Championship.
“A lot of us will be taking next week off,” fifth year senior captain Alisha Cole said. “For this weekend it was really important to get in a good performance, because for some of us it could be our last race before the Big Ten Championships.
“Physically, we’re starting to feel a little worn down, but I think mentally we’re all really excited about what the team is doing.”
Next week will be the team’s last home meet until May, and the focus is now on cleaning up any remaining loose ends.
“We’re starting to look at the nit picky little things that are going to help us improve and get a little ahead of our opponents,” Cole said.