After an astounding performance at the Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis, the Michigan women’s track and field team has plenty of reasons to celebrate.
With the cross country and indoor track and field conference titles already captured earlier in the year, the Wolverines needed to win the outdoor championship to complete the “Triple Crown” for the second time in school history. This past weekend, the team did just that. Led by four individual victories, Michigan was able to capture its second consecutive outdoor championship.
“We expected to win,” Michigan coach James Henry said. “We were the favorites going in and that’s what made it so hard for us.”
Senior tri-captain April Phillips got her team off to a good start on the first day of competition by winning the hammer throw with a toss of 199’3″. Freshman Rebecca Walter and sophomore Chelsea Loomis added to the early success with a 2-3 finish in the 10,000-meter run. The Wolverines ended the day leading all teams with a total of 25 points.
On the second day, Phillips was at it again. She successfully defended her shot put title from last season by winning the event with a heave of 53’8″. Phillips was followed by teammate junior Melissa Bickett, who unexpectedly jumped six places on her final attempt to finish second overall. Sophomore Andrea Parker and freshman Beth Vinckier also contributed to Michigan’s 26 total points for the day. Parker came in fifth place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a school-record time of 10:34, while Vinckier finished eighth overall in the heptathalon. But despite these performances, Michigan trailed Penn State by 15 points at the end of the second day. This made the third day of competition a challenging one for the Wolverines.
“Collectively, we didn’t have a great day,” Henry said. “But it was an outstanding day in the sense that we did not panic. We worked together as a team.”
Junior Vera Simms and senior tri-captain Rachel Sturtz helped the Wolverines stay on top, winning the 400-meter hurdles and 800-meter run, respectively. Second and third place finishes in the high jump by sophomores Stephanie Linz and Jennifer Kulchar, respectively, held off the competition for the remainder of the day and enabled Michigan to hoist the trophy once again.
“These kids will remember this forever,” Henry said. “This is the type of thing that you want to enjoy and relish because it’s a very rare (occurrence).”