Time is up. The Big Ten Championships take place this weekend for the Michigan women”s track and field team. All the Big Ten programs except Northwestern, which doesn”t have a team, will face each other under the dome of Lambert Fieldhouse in West Lafayette. Purdue plays host to the competition.
“It”s going to be a hard-fought meet,” Michigan coach James Henry said. “It is the first meet in five years that I cannot predict.”
While competition for this year”s Big Ten Championships may be a surprise, the Wolverines can still rely on the hard work they have already put forth this season.
Currently, two of the Wolverines have qualified for indoor NCAA Championships sophomore Teyonna Simpson in the triple jump and senior Katie Jazwinski in the the mile run.
“The only thing I ask of the girls is to treat this as the most important meet of the year, but not to overact by trying too hard,” Henry said.
Junior Tasha Phillips may fully recover from chronic injury to compete in the 60-meter low hurdles. Her personal-best of 8.47 in the 60-meter low hurdles rivals that of Purdue hurdler Krissy Liphardt. Liphardt just broke the school record with the same time.
Although this is a personal-best for Phillips, Michigan holds an even higher school record time for the women”s 60-meter low hurdles than Purdue.
Finishing within the top-five teams is a major focus for the Wolverines. To gain enough points for a good placement, the Wolverines will concentrate on putting points on the board in uniform sequences. This would mean grabbing the top three spots for one event, thus knocking other athletes out from nailing any points for their teams. If the Wolverines could do this consistently throughout the meet, there is little limitation as to what they can accomplish.
“In conference championships, placing takes precedence over time,” Henry said. “We must work hard to finish in the top five. Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin all look really good. Any one of these teams could come out in the top one to five.”
With too many competitive teams to predict the outcome, the Wolverines will just have to get lucky.
“This meet is a matter of who is the luckiest,” Henry said. “We need to have a balanced squad. As a team, we are not deep and we don”t have the depth in middle and long distances as we”ve had in the past.”
Daily Sports writer Adam Kaplan
contributed to this report.