Coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships for cross country last November, Erin Finn hasn’t lost her step.
The senior ran away from the rest of the field in the 3,000-meter race at Saturday’s Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind., winning with a time of 9:07.24 – the fastest time in the nation so far this season.
Finn’s victory helped lead the No. 12 Michigan women’s track and field team to a first-place finish in its first scored meet of the regular season. With a score of 113 points, the Wolverines bested a field consisting of DePaul, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia, finishing 24 points clear of the second-place Cardinals.
Finn was not alone in her efforts as Michigan asserted its dominance in the distance events. Five of the next six finishers in her race were also Wolverines, including redshirt junior Gina Sereno, fifth-year senior Kira Garry and redshirt junior Avery Evenson, who finished second, fourth and fifth respectively. Along with Finn, Sereno and Evenson comprised the top three runners for a Michigan cross country team that finished second at the NCAA Championships last fall.
Senior Jamie Morrissey, another returner from the cross country team, added to the Wolverines’ point total with a win in the 800-meter race, setting a personal record of 2:06.44 — a top-10 time in the nation — while junior Claire Borchers took third in that race.
“We’re kind of riding that wave of determination and effort that we were during cross country,” Finn said. “We’ve got work to do and we’re doing it, and we’re going out and earning it every time we’re out there.”
Michigan also had success in shorter-distance races, as freshman Jade Harrison won the 400-meter race with a time of 55.46. Harrison improved on her time from last week by nearly half a second while remaining unbeaten so far in her short collegiate career. And in the final event of the day — the 4×400-meter relay — the Wolverines’ team of Morrissey, Borchers and juniors Sydney Badger and Meghan Marias recorded a time of 3:44.39.
Other key performances for the Wolverines included freshman Torisa Johnson, who placed third in the 60-meter dash in 7.59, and freshman Julia Hall, who improved upon her college debut by two seconds, finishing in 1:33.23 to finish second in the 600-meter race. Junior Jaimie Phelan took second in the mile race with a time of 4:48.17, with sophomore Holly Petrusson close behind her in third.
Sophomore Emma Bauer cleared a career-high height of 3.85 meters to place second in the pole vault, while sophomore Jeryne Fish and junior Aaron Howell were third and fourth, respectively, in the long jump. In the weight throw, freshman Courtney Jacobsen and junior Bailey Baker placed fifth and sixth, both recording personal bests in the process.
With only two meets under the Wolverines’ belt, Michigan coach James Henry recognizes the need to continue gaining experience, though the positive atmosphere surrounding his team is a good sign for their development.
“We’ve got good chemistry going on,” Henry said. “We’ve got a mixture of veterans and young kids, and (the veterans) are working very hard to keep the young kids relaxed.”
Finn iterated a similar tone as her coach. She believes that the early results have been promising, but the Wolverines’ best is yet to come.
“The (main objective) of today for me and all my teammates was to go out and get a good effort in,” Finn said. “We ended up running a little bit slower than we wanted to, but the effort was there.”