In real estate, it’s often said that there are three Ls: Location, location, location.
Fittingly, the No. 13 Michigan women’s track and field team sent its long-distance runners to Washington, and short-distance runners and other athletes to Kent State, picking up three potential “Ws” in the process.
Fifth-year senior Gina Sereno and senior Haley Meier timed in at 9:01.62 in the 3,000 meters and 4:35.69 in the mile, respectively, while senior Claire Kieffer-Wright notched an indoor career-best 1.84 meters in the high jump. Each of those results should be enough to qualify the athletes for the NCAA Championships.
Getting to the NCAAs has been a big jump, literally, for Kieffer-Wright. After years of getting close in the Big Ten Championships but not quite reaching the pinnacle of the postseason, the senior’s indoor jump at Kent State was the second highest in Wolverines history and ninth overall in the country this year.
“I’ve been working for that for four years since I’ve never been to a national championship indoors or outdoors for high jump,” Kieffer-Wright said. “It’s not set in stone obviously … but it’s really exciting because I’ve had to kind of come down to the wire each year and get the jump height up for Big Tens and not quite make it. It’s all paying off and it’s exciting.”
Kieffer-Wright noted that even though she hadn’t made it to the NCAAs before, high jumping helped her improve in her volleyball career at Michigan, and vice versa.
“Volleyball is unfortunately done, but I think that track and field is great cross-training for another sport,” Kieffer-Wright said. “High jump and other track events really complement what I do in volleyball. The slide and attack in volleyball has the same mechanics as the high jump; I take off the same foot, it’s kind of like an L-shape or a J-shape. … By training for both, I’ve been able to get better at both.”
On the other side of the country, Meier experienced a similar jubilation. Like Kieffer-Wright, Meier has never been to the NCAAs. That should change after the weekend.
That berth seemed in doubt on multiple occasions during the race. Three-quarters of the way through the race Meier was at the back of the leaders pack and hovering around eighth place. The senior ended up rallying on the last lap, and finished third overall, pushing ahead of Big Ten favorite Danae Rivers of Penn State.
“During that time period, I was thinking just ‘save it, save it, save it, stay where you are, play it safe,’ ” Meier said. “So when the last five came around, I told myself to change gears and give everything that I had left on my last lap. I was feeling really great on the last home stretch.
“I honestly wished I could have kicked a little earlier and challenged the two girls that won, but I was happy with where I was and this was a big improvement for me. I owe a lot of that to my teammates and my coaches that helped me get there.”
As the dust settles for other meets around the country, the three Wolverines should find themselves facing the NCAAs head on. If the seniors can continue to improve like they have over the course of their Michigan careers, they might just occupy some real estate on the championship podium when all is said and done.