Sereno, Harrison Headline Day One at Big Ten Indoors
Gina Sereno

Feb. 24, 2017

What You Need to Know
» Gina Sereno and Erin Finn were the gold and bronze medalists, respectively, in a dramatic 3,000 meters final.
» Jade Harrison broke the school record at 400 meters, with another shot at it in Saturday's final.
» Aaron Howell took fourth in the pentathlon in a triumphant return to the Big Ten Indoor Championships.
» The Wolverines are in great shape after day one with seven entries advancing to finals and 29 points already in the books.

Results | Photo Gallery 

Site: Geneva, Ohio (SPIRE Institute)
Event: Big Ten Indoor Championships (Day 1 of 2)
U-M Team Standing: 2nd Place of 13 Teams (29 Points) after Day 1
Next U-M Events: Saturday, Feb. 25 -- at Big Ten Indoor Championships (Geneva, Ohio), 1:30 p.m.

GENEVA, Ohio -- One of the most dramatic finishes in Big Ten Championships history underscored an impressive first day of the Big Ten Indoor Championships for the No. 18 University of Michigan women's track and field team Friday (Feb. 24) at the SPIRE Institute.

On a day when a school record fell to Jade Harrison in the 400-meter prelims and pentathlete Aaron Howell made her triumphant return to the Big Ten Indoor Championships, it was Gina Sereno's photo-finish victory at 3,000 meters that turned the most heads in Geneva.

Sereno ran 9:07.00 for the race of her life to earn a .04 of a second victory over pre-meet top seed Katherine Receveur, while defending champion Erin Finn posted a hard-fought third-place finish to give the Wolverines 16 crucial points in the team standings.

Combined with a runner-up finish in the distance medley relay, a fourth-place finish from Howell, and a strong day in the preliminary rounds, the Wolverines enter Saturday's final day of competition at SPIRE with 29 points in the books, seven entries advancing to finals, and 13 more set for Saturday-only events. Among those returning are Sereno and Finn for the 5,000-meter final.

Only Penn State has more points after day one with 30.

Tonight, Sereno crossed the line nearly 10 seconds faster than her previous fastest time of 9:16.57 from a year ago, with Finn just behind in 9:08.38.

After some jostling in the crowd right at the start, Finn soon established herself at the front of the pack. As the 10-lap race wore on, Finn soon found herself at the point of a group of four including Receveur, Penn State's Tessa Barrett and Sereno. Barrett made a move to the front midway through, which Finn answered to keep the Nittany Lion on her shoulder.

At the bell for the final lap, it was Receveur who made the move toward the front, which Finn had covered until partway around the final turn. Swinging onto the straightaway it quickly came down to a footrace between Sereno and Recevuer, with the two running side by side until the moment they crossed the line.

Just about 20 minutes later, the distance medley relay quartet of Jaimie Phelan, Julia Hall, Claire Borchers and Jamie Morrissey combined for eight more points in a runner-up finish. The Wolverines led throughout but were overcome on the anchor leg by Penn State. U-M ran 11:14.20, four seconds back of PSU but more than three clear of Indiana.

While the distances are always a leading role in the Wolverines' success, the sprints took center stage on Friday, as well. Jade Harrison, only a freshman, ran 53.47 in the prelims of the 400 meters, breaking the school record of 53.64 set only a year ago by Maya Long.

The writing had been on these very walls for Harrison's new school record since at least two weeks ago, when she was halted by traffic in the midst of a then-career-best 54.12 at the SPIRE DI Invitational. One week later she split 52.5 on the Wolverines' distance medley relay at the Notre Dame Alex Wilson Invitational.

She came back later in the evening to run 23.99 over 200 meters, just off her career best and about a third of a second away from Cindy Ofili's school record. The time was good for 11th overall, though she won't advance to the final.

Harrison could lower her brand-new quarter-mile record in the final at 1:50 p.m. on Saturday.

While Harrison's performance secured her a spot on the U-M school record board, it was Aaron Howell who first put the Wolverines on the Big Ten Championships scoreboard this weekend.

Competing in her first Big Ten Indoor Championships since an injury forced her out of this very meet two years ago and the subsequent 2015 outdoor and 2016 indoor seasons, Howell finished fourth in the pentathlon with 3,873 points. The performance netted the Wolverines five points in the team standings.

Howell's day was highlighted by a career-best 12.49m (40-11.75) in the shot put to put her in second place through three of the five events. She also ran 8.78 in the 60-meter hurdles and 2:27.66 over 800 meters to go along with a 1.71m (5-7.25) clearance in the high jump and a 5.27m (17-3.5) leap in the long jump.

Howell is scheduled to double back Saturday at 2 p.m. for the open high jump.

Though technically not a qualifier from Friday's action, she will be among the many Wolverines who will be looking to parlay strong qualifying performances into points in Saturday's final. Led by newly minted record-holder Harrison, seven Wolverine entries advanced to tomorrow's finals in their respective events.

Morrissey showed the way in the 800-meter preliminaries, leading essentially wire to wire and holding off a challenge from Rachel Banks of Penn State down the homestretch to post a prelims-best 2:06.82.

Teammate Borchers was not far behind, running 2:08.80 to secure one of two at-large berths into the final (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.). Kieran Gallagher just missed the final with a ninth-place finish in 2:10.26.

Two Maize and Blue qualifiers also made it through in the mile. Haley Meier and Sydney Badger ran from the front of their heat to secure berths into tomorrow's 1:30 p.m. final. Meier ran a season-best 4:46.78 to finish third with an auto bid to the final, while Badger crossed in 4:47.84 for fourth in the second as one of the qualifiers on time.

Meier's run made her the 10th different Wolverine this year to run 4:50.00 or faster in the mile, the most of any team in the nation this season.

Meghan Marias ran a career-best 7.48 in the 60-meter prelims to nab the last qualifying bid into the 2:10 p.m. final on Saturday. Not only did she chop a tenth of a second off her previous PR set on this track two weeks ago and give the Maize and Blue yet another finalist, but it was also just fast enough to edge pre-meet third seed Savannah Carson of Purdue -- one of the Wolverines' biggest barriers on the road to a team title repeat -- out of the final.

Both ran 7.48 in the prelims, but Marias' time was .009 faster when taking thousandths of a second into account, 7.471 to 7.480.

Phelan made it through in the 600-meter final, crossing the line in 1:30.53 for second in her heat and eighth overall for the last qualifying spot. Running at 3:10 p.m., she will be looking to improve on a third-place showing in this event a year ago.

Communications Contact: Kyle Terwillegar