Going into the outdoor track season, senior sprinter Cindy Ofili was most excited for the 100-meter hurdles. Competing at the Mount SAC Relays in Norwalk, Calif., over the weekend, she showed why.
Ofili, who was the national runner-up last season, ran a season-best 12.66 at the meet, which consisted mostly of professional runners and just a few collegiate runners. Ofili’s time is the fastest in the NCAA this season, and even more impressively, is the second-fastest time in the world.
“I’m definitely very pleased,” Ofili said. “I haven’t run this fast this early. It’s definitely motivating to know I can do that. It’s just nice to know things are progressing smoothly.”
The time is especially promising for Ofili as she attempts to qualify for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Ofili competed for Great Britain at the IAAF World Championships last summer in Beijing.
The Michigan women’s track and field team traveled to three events this weekend with two in California. Along with Ofili, also competing at the Mount SAC Relays for Michigan was junior Sami Mitchell, who finished 11th in the 400-meter hurdles. Sophomore Claire Kieffer-Wright was the only other Wolverine in the meet, finishing seventh in the high jump and second among amateur athletes.
An hour away, in Long Beach, Calif., several runners competed at the Long Beach Invitational. In the 800-meter run, four different Michigan runners finished in the top 10, but none could crack the podium. Fifth-year senior Shannon Osika was the Wolverines’ fastest, finishing fourth overall with a time of 2:07.53.
Ofili also participated in the meet in Long Beach, making the hour-long drive after her record-setting sprint to take part in the 4 x 400 relay. With Ofili present, Michigan was able to win with a time of 3:41.19 – a whole four seconds faster than the runners-up.
Despite the success in California, Michigan coach James Henry is still cautious about looking too far ahead.
“We’re on schedule, not ahead of schedule,” Henry said. “I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves because it’s still early in the season. As I always say, this is the month of effort and we’re getting some good results this early this season.”
But while those Wolverines competed in California, the Wolverine pole vaulters competed closer to home at the Don Kleinow Invitational hosted by Siena Heights University in Adrian, Mich.
Michigan entered four different vaulters at the event a week after their meet at Michigan State was cancelled due to inclement weather.
Redshirt sophomore Sarah Uhlian handily won the meet with a height of 3.90 meters, a full 0.20 meters higher than the runner-up. The meet also allowed some younger competitors to gain experience. Freshman Emma Bauer competed in just her third meet ever, coming in eighth with a height of 3.50 meters. Redshirt freshman Tori Chapin competed in her third meet ever as well, finishing in 10th with a height of 3.35 meters.
Henry still sees room for improvement but is content with following the path that has been working.
“We just need to continue down the road that we’re going,” Henry said. “There are no complaints there. The hardest thing is to stay focused when things are going well.
“Things are going well, so we need to stay focused on day-to-day training and realize that the most important meet is many weeks away.”