With a series of solid individual performances, the Michigan women’s track and field team helped the Big Ten win in the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Challenge. 

With their 57 points, the Wolverines finished considerably behind first-place Nebraska’s 142, finishing eighth out of eight teams overall in the tournament.

Junior Claire Kieffer-Wright led the way for Michigan with her 1.75-meter jump in the high-jump, enough to finish first after a tie-break.

“I always enjoy it when I get to open up my season pretty strong,” Kieffer-Wright said.

Kieffer-Wright was able to bring home the victory after neither her nor her opponents were able to clear the 1.78-meter jump. Since she had fewer misses throughout the day she was awarded the win.

“She’s just a workhorse,” said Wolverines’ coach James Henry. “She’s willing to work hard … (and) set an example as a captain.”

Kieffer-Wright’s consistently solid performances are especially impressive given that she is also a part of Michigan’s volleyball team.

While Henry said that this commitment has taken a toll on her body, he praised her ability to balance both sports.

Kieffer-Wright was not the only Wolverine to have a good showing. Junior Aaron Howell followed her teammate’s victory, finishing third in the high jump with her 1.70-meter jump. Juniors Claire Borchers and Sydney Badger, along with redshirt freshman Meg Darmofal, finished 5-6-7 in the 1,500-meter run.

Freshman Jade Harrison finished fourth in the 100-meter run, starting her outdoor season strong after a very good first indoor season with Michigan.

Despite the series of good performances, Henry stressed that he was not increasing his expectations of her.

With some athletes sitting out after competing in the NCAA Indoor Championships two weeks ago, the challenge also served as a good opportunity for many of the younger athletes to compete.

While the transition from indoor to outdoor takes place over a short time-period, neither Henry nor Kieffer-Wright viewed the shift as particularly difficult.

“It’s a lot of the same,” Kieffer-Wright said. “You strive for your best every meet.”

Henry also stressed the importance of recovering and rehab after a tough finish to the indoor season.

“We’ve got to do well in the long-term,” he said.

With a good start to the outdoor season behind her, Kieffer-Wright  a bronze medalist at last year’s Big Ten Outdoor Championship — stressed that her focus remains on contributing to her team, saying “as long as I can score points for my team, that’s all that really matters to me.” 

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