One lane. Sixty meters. Five hurdles.

Chris Dzombak/Daily
Tiffany Ofili at the Simmons/Harvey Invitational on January 24, 2009.

Seven and a half seconds later, senior Tiffany Ofili took a first-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles and an NCAA automatic qualifying mark for the second week in a row.

“I try to just drown everything out,” Ofili said. “Nothing else matters besides the five hurdles and the finish line in front of me.”

The co-captain also won the 60-meter dash and finished second behind teammate Bettie Wade in the long jump, leaping 20 feet and 7 inches at the non-scoring Simmons/Harvey Invitational at the Indoor Track Building Saturday.

Ofili took a noticeable lead right out of the starting blocks in both the 60-meter hurdles and the 60-meter dash. By the time her opponents prepared to clear their first hurdle, Ofili was already a step ahead.

Co-captains Casey Taylor and Wade joined in Ofili’s success. The Wolverines earned seven first-place finishes, with five earned by the three captains Taylor, Wade and Ofili.

Saturday’s meet was one of the few opportunities for the Wolverines to get fast times before the Big Ten Championships at the end of February.

Taylor set a school record and new personal best in the triple jump (13.09 meters) Saturday, beating the personal best she set last week in Akron.

“I was happy, but I had other goals in mind,” Taylor said. “I stayed calm and collected just so I could get myself together for the rest of the jumps.”

Wade followed with an equally impressive performance when she met the NCAA automatic qualifying mark in the long jump (20 feet, 10 inches), a personal best and good enough for first place.

“I get really hyped when things go well,” Wade said. “So I was just really excited. And then my other teammates, we all get really competitive and talk smack to each other so I was like ‘Let’s go!’”

The Wolverines have just five meets to earn qualifying times for the NCAA Championships before the Big Ten Indoor Championships at the end of February. Michigan coach James Henry said he was impressed with his athletes’ performances in only the third meet of the season.

“I was really excited, really happy with the results,” Henry said. “They looked like if they continue to improve, that we are going to have a very special team and a very special year.”

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