The last time the Michigan women’s track and field team competed at the Randal Tyson Center in Arkansas, the Wolverines were competing in the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships.
They finished that competition in third place, Michigan’s highest-ever indoor finish.
The fourth-ranked Wolverines returned to Fayetteville, Ark., Thursday for the Tyson Invitational. The meet allowed the Wolverines to gauge their performance on a national stage.
“It was our national tune-up meet,” Michigan coach James Henry said. “The purpose of going there was to compete against totally different athletes and to compete on the same track that Nationals have been run on.”
The Randal Tyson Center has hosted the NCAA Indoor Championships nine times and will hold the championships again in 2010. The center has a banked track, allowing the runners to speed up rather than slow down as they go into turns. The building also holds 7,000 spectators.
“Our goal was to have good competition and good atmosphere and solid athletes, and we met our goals,” Henry said. “The atmosphere was outstanding.”
The Wolverines faced off against No. 2 Tennessee, No. 5 Louisiana, No. 8 Florida State, No. 10 Penn State and host team No. 12 Arkansas.
Michigan held its own against some of the year’s toughest competition.
In the non-scoring meet, the Wolverines won two events. Senior co-captain Tiffany Ofili won the 60-meter hurdles (8.05 seconds), an NCAA automatic qualifying time.
Ofili has won the 60-meter hurdles in all five of her meets this season.
“Tiffany didn’t have the time she was looking for, but the goal at this point is beating bodies, so she did that and did well,” Henry said.
At last year’s Tyson Invitational, Ofili captured an NCAA Title when she broke the then-program record in the event with a time of 7.49 seconds.
“I would be disappointed if all my athletes didn’t win,” Henry said. “But if Tiffany didn’t win, that would be the biggest disappointment because she has been perfect thus far. We hope she continues to win.”
Sophomore Kaitlyn Peale won the 5,000-meter run (17:14.10). In addition, the Wolverines picked up seven top-five finishes, including three NCAA provisional marks.
The Wolverines will continue preparing for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 13-14. This year, the meet will be held at Texas A & M’s Anderson Track and Field Complex, but Michigan will be ready to compete at Arkansas come 2010.