Before an intimate crowd of family and friends, the Michigan women”s track team shot out of the gate at the Indoor Track Building on Saturday hosting the annual Jack Harvey Invitational named after the former Michigan men”s track coach who retired in 1999 after 32 years of coaching, 26 as the head man.

“It”s a great thrill to have this meet in my name,” Harvey said. “It”s so unexpected. I miss the friends, such as the other coaches and the officials, and I miss the kids.

“If you are the coach at Michigan it is your life, it is hard to step away and take a time out. But I don”t miss the travel and I surely don”t miss the recruiting. It was all too time consuming.”

Harvey was successful during his tenure as coach, amassing 10 Big Ten titles and leading the team to a third-place finish in the 1994 NCAA Indoor Championships.

The invitational marked the start of the 2002 track season for Michigan. With many of the team”s key components from last year returning, this season starts with high expectations for the Michigan women.

This meet is an unusual one because it is the first meet of the season, while most of the women have taken some time off from training to celebrate the holidays and enjoy the break.

“Competition is not really the driving factor in this meet,” said Michigan assistant coach Karen Harvey. “Each girl is back on campus and we all are trying to get ready for next week”s meet with a real Big Ten opponent (Indiana) on the road, ”

Some of the team members enjoyed the chance to find their groove. Sophomore star thrower Melissa Bickett understood that her recent time off had hurt her performance.

“This meet is really about working yourself into shape after taking some time off,” Bickett said. “The emphasis is really not on team in most track meets, until the Big Ten meet or our head-to-head match with Indiana.”

Even without the added emphasis on victory, the Wolverines were quite successful overall, winning 12 of 15 events. Particularly noteworthy during the field events was junior April Phillips, who won two events and also broke her personal record by close to two feet in the weight throw with a throw of 52 feet, 3 inches. Junior TaNisha Williams won two events as well, finishing first in the 60 meter hurdles and the long jump.

Coach James Henry was happy with the team”s effort.

“We have not all been up to date in our training, but we came out and competed,” Henry said. “With this experience under our belt, we will be a step ahead for next week in Indiana.”

With the competition over, Henry wrapped up the day by asking the freshmen members of the team to step forward and lead the team in a chorus of “The Victors.” It was suggested that after the song was concluded, the freshmen were officially members of the team. Instead, when the song ended, the returning upper-classmen doused the newcomers with cups of water and silly string.

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