Through just two scored meets this season, the No. 11 Michigan women’s track and field team is already where Michigan coach James Henry expected it to be. Amongst the Wolverines’ five event wins at the non-scoring Saginaw Valley State Jets Pizza Invitational last weekend, Michigan’s runners claimed the top seven spots in the one-mile race and swept the top four spots in the weight throw.
“The pressure is on its way,” Henry said. “So this meet we just wanted to relax and have some fun.”
On Friday, competitors in the field events started on a high note, as junior Bailey Baker notched a personal record in the weight throw, tossing for 18.42 meters. Freshman Courtney Jacobsen, junior Kayla Deering and freshman Meagan Malloy followed suit, taking the second, third and fourth spots for Michigan, respectively.
“The first month of the indoor season is where you work, and the second month is where you see results,” Baker said. “Our group is seeing results pretty early, and I think that’s a testament to how hard we’ve been training and all the work we’ve put in.”
Deering claimed second place in the shot put with a 14.12 meter heave, while Baker finished in fifth.
In the high jump, senior Aaron Howell took first after clearing the bar at 1.68 meters, while freshman Jada Wimberly came in second just behind her with a top height of 1.63 meters. In the pole vault, senior Sarah Uhlian was the runner-up, clearing the bar at 3.70 meters, trailing only Windsor’s Rachael Wolfs, who cleared 3.91 meters.
Much of the Wolverines’ early success this year has come from strong performances from their freshmen. The group has been headlined by Julia Hall, who has finished first and second in two 600-meter races at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational and the Notre Dame Invitational, respectively. This weekend, in her 400-meter debut, Hall claimed first place once again, besting the second-place finisher by more than 0.5 seconds.
“I was still a little disappointed with my time, but it was a learning race,” Hall said. “I know it’s not possible to break a record every meet, but I’m excited to see what I can do with a little more practice.”
Senior Courtney Munley competed unattached for Michigan and won the mile run by a large eight-second margin. The next six spots were also claimed by Wolverine runners, five of whom broke five-minute miles on the day.
Another Michigan victory came in the 4×400-meter relay race, in which sophomore Lauren Rodriguez, freshman Jade Harrison and seniors Haley Meier and Gina McNamara finished in 3:53.42.
McNamara claimed the fifth victory for the Wolverines, this time in the 800-meter contest.
While Michigan is heartened to see success this early in the year, its sights are set on remaining healthy and working to improve for the Big Ten Indoor Championships in a few weeks.
“We want our kids to have an outstanding performance later in the year,” Henry said. “Our goal here in January is just for the team to put forth a good effort and get ready for the result month (February).”