Since the start of the season, Michigan women’s track and field coach James Henry has maintained the same mantra: January is for effort, and February is for results. With the calendar now reading February, Henry can gauge if the results are as good as he was hoping for.
“We got the results we need to be competitive in the conference, and I’m very happy with the team,” Henry said. “So far, so good.”
The 14th-ranked Wolverines, competing at the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational, were led by a strong coalition of middle- and long-distance runners, as well as some sprinters.
Senior hurdler Cindy Ofili had possibly the best day of the runners, breaking her personal record in the 60-meter hurdles with an event-winning time of 7.97 seconds. Ofili continues to hold the nation-leading time in the event.
Junior runner Erin Finn also had a monumental day, breaking the program record in the 3,000-meter with a time of 9:01.25. The time was good for a second-place finish in the meet and is currently the third-best time in the nation.
The event, held in South Bend, Ind., comes after a bye weekend, which allowed the runners to rest their bodies after three straight weekends of meets.
“The kids are full-time, very good students,” Henry said. “They try to do their very best in terms of training and taking caring of their bodies and their social lives, so it’s always good for us to give them that break to catch themselves and do other things besides practice.”
Redshirt junior runner Danielle Pfeifer also had a strong performance, narrowly edging out an Illinois runner to take home the 800-meter title with a time of 2:06.48 seconds.
The meet was especially beneficial for Michigan, as it featured many top-ranked teams from all over the country, including many future Big Ten opponents. The meet had significantly more teams competing in it than any other meet the Wolverines have competed in so far.
Redshirt senior runner Shannon Osika was the strongest collegiate runner in the one-mile run, finishing with a time of 4:34.34. However, she finished fourth overall because the meet also featured a few professional runners.
“It’s really cool to be out on the same track as them, especially for me,” Osika said. “That’s a goal of mine. I would love to continue running afterwards, so they’re very inspiring people. They work so hard, and they’re so fit, so it’s nice to have them around, see what they’re doing, how they’re warming up.”
The weakest events for Michigan continue to be the field events. However, Henry is pleased with their development so far.
“They’re coming around,” Henry said. “There are a lot young kids in that group — they’re all freshmen or sophomores — and (assistant coach) Sandy (Fowler) is doing a very good job with their efforts. That’s going to be a long-term project, and I’m very happy with how they’re coming around.”
Still, though, the new personal bests and records set in South Bend show the improvement of the Wolverine runners over the past month, and with just three weeks until the Big Ten Indoor Championship, there is still time for all events to improve.