Last weekend, Michigan women’s track head coach James Henry wanted to set initial times. With those benchmarks set, Henry was hoping there would be no regression at the Doug Raymond Invitational in Kent, Ohio.
“Second meet in, consistency is what we want, improvement is what we’re gradually looking for,” Henry said. “So give me good effort, and I’ll be happy with that.”
With seven event titles and 20 top-five finishes, the No. 14 Michigan women’s track team appears to be on the way to exceeding Henry’s goal.
The Wolverines fared particularly well in the 800-meter run, where fifth-year senior Gina McNamara won the event with a time of 2:10.57 and sophomore Holly Petrusson came in second with a time of 2:14.29. McNamara’s time is the 21st fastest time in the country in the 800-meter race so far this season.
The meet was non-scoring, but according to McNamara that didn’t change the philosophy of the team.
“I think we go into each meet with the mindset of, ‘We need to get our business done,’ whether that be the long jump, the hurdles, the 800 or the 5k,” said McNamara. “Everybody wants to place high or score high. It’s more so about winning the race in the race than worrying about points.”
Henry was also happy with the consistency shown by sophomore Meghan Marias, who won the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.77 seconds.
The best events for the Wolverines, though, were the long-distance events.
In the mile race, Michigan took three of the top four spots with redshirt freshman Rachel Barrett taking first place with a time of 4:55.34. Nationally, five different Wolverines hold top-50 times in that event to date.
Michigan was equally as dominant in the 3000-meter race, with three of the four top spots going to Wolverine runners. Redshirt freshman Ellie Leonard won the event with a time of 9:59.11. Nationally, four of the top ten times so far this season are held by Michigan runners, with junior Erin Finn holding the fastest time in the nation.
With the experience and results the Wolverines have shown, McNamara is excited for how this season could finish.
“We want to win an indoor Big Ten title,” McNamara said. “We’ve been so close the past couple of years. We’re returning 54 of 58 scoring points, so we graduated one person who scored four points in the mile. So if we’re going to get a title, this is the year.”
Yet, despite Michigan’s consistency and success, Henry is a little bit more cautious towards looking forward too far and changing his expectations.
“We can’t take too big of a bite than we are be able to,” Henry said. “We take it one meet at a time. That’s still our goal, and that will be our goal going into the conference championship: being in the top three. It won’t change based on how we do from meet to meet.”