After a rather disappointing indoor season, the Michigan women’s track and field team is definitely happy to see such a smooth transition outdoors.

“Usually the transition from indoor to outdoor is kind of rough,” redshirt sophomore Allison Liske said. “The sprinters are moving a longer distance for the sprints, and the throwers are moving from one to three events, and some of us from two to three, but so far, it’s been a pretty smooth transition.”

The Wolverines packed their bags for the 2,000-mile journey out to California to compete in the three-day Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner Kersee Invitational. The weekend was full of championship-caliber performances worthy of the team’s burgeoning expectations.

Michigan saw some of its toughest competition at this meet, but that did not seem to faze the young team, as they have already notched six first-place finishes and 22 top-three finishes in the first three weekends of the outdoor season.

In day one of competition, freshman Erin Pendleton and redshirt sophomore Allison Liske set new personal records in the hammer throw, placing fifth and eighth in the event, respectively. But according to Liske, there is always room for improvement.

“We are looking for some more personal records,” Liske said. “Expectations for ourselves are pretty high, and I don’t think anyone has met their expectation for the season yet. You just got to remind yourself you know what you’re doing and you do this every day of the week. You come in and work your butt off and do what you know how to do, and hopefully the results will find you in the right spot.”

Day two of competition saw a much better showing throughout the roster. Redshirt junior Abbey Breiedenstein took first place in the pole vault, and junior Lauren Young took first place in the high jump — the first time in her collegiate career. Freshman Kaitlyn Patterson also impressed by taking second place in the 5,000-meter with a time of 17:14.27, improving her previous season low by 22 seconds. Erin Pendleton also set a new personal record in the shot put, taking third place with a mark of 13.43 meters.

Despite the departure of the strong 2009 senior class, this year’s team is not showing any signs of inexperience, especially with junior captains Danielle Tauro and Emily Pendleton leading the way. In just three days of competition at UCLA, Tauro and Pendleton combined for four first place finishes. Tauro took first place in both the 800 meter run and in the mile run. It was her first time running the mile outdoors.

“I need to continue to work my way up, and hopefully my progress will be moving at the same rate as the level of competition,” Tauro said. Then hopefully my body will be ready to run faster at those places. I’m just more interested in getting my body ready to run fast and peak at the right time, instead of peaking too early.”

Junior Emily Pendleton, Erin Pendleton’s older sister, also shined, showing off her strength by winning the shot put and discus event. Pendleton has now won the discus at all three invitationals she has participated in this year.

“I’m just happy with how I’m doing and hoping to do better,” Pendleton said. “I am ready to throw farther, and I got to keep being patient with myself and go for that.”

In the end, the team was able to rack up seven first-place finishes — three on the track and four in the field.

“We’re happy but never satisfied,” Liske said. “You just gotta say ‘Hip hip hooray,’ pat yourself on the back, and then move forward. It’s going to take some bigger marks than what happened this weekend to place in the Big Tens and regionals and nationals as well.”

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