The Michigan women’s track and field team has been tantalizingly close to the Big Ten championship in the past two years, finishing second in both campaigns. Friday, they began a new season, when they traveled to Allendale, Mich. to compete in the GVSU Holiday Open, hosted by Grand Valley State.
Michigan finished fourth at the meet, led by two event victories from junior mid-distance runner Jamie Morrissey, who won the mile, and senior mid-distance runner Danielle Pfeifer, who took first in the 800-meter run.
In addition to winning her event, Morrissey also set a new personal record on the day. She finished her mile with a time of 4:44.56, besting her previous record by 10 seconds.
“Any athlete would agree that once you get something that you really wanted, then you want something else,” Morrissey said. “So today I’m really excited, but I’m already looking forward to the rest of this coming track season.”
Although the season just started, Morrissey already has her eyes on where she wants to be at the end of the season.
“Last year at the Big Ten meet, I was fourth place,” Morrissey said. “I really want to medal. I don’t care what event, I just really want to medal.”
Morrissey, who is also on the cross country team, used that cross country experience this fall to help improve her performance for the indoor track and field season.
“Her body of work in the fall set itself up to give her that opportunity (Friday),” said associate head coach Mike McGuire. “We’ll see if she continues to move forward with it.”
In addition to Morrissey, the Wolverines set eight personal records on the day.
“There were solid times,” McGuire said. “There were performances that will score in the conference meet, but we want to go beyond that — we want to score high in the conference meet.”
The meet was also an opportunity for some new faces to get in on the action, as 10 different athletes made their Michigan debuts.
The Wolverines will now take a break for the holidays. Their next meet isn’t until Jan. 9, when they travel to Kent, Ohio for the Doug Raymond Invitational.
But after its first meet of the year, Michigan is already confident. Now, the question is whether the Wolverines can prepare for the challenge that has narrowly escaped them the past two years.
“We’ve been so close to a Big Ten championship two years in a row,” Morrissey said. “I think we have all the tools to get together this year. If everyone’s firing on all cylinders, we can win a Big Ten championship.”