March 15, 2014
Site: Albuquerque Convention Center (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Event: NCAA Indoor Championships (Day 1)
U-M Team Result: T-21st Place of 34 Teams (4 points) after Day 1
Next U-M Event: Saturday, March 15 -- at NCAA Indoor Championships - Day 2 (Albuquerque, N.M.), 11 a.m. MDT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of Michigan women's track and field team's distance medley relay came from behind to secure a fifth-place finish, and sophomore Cindy Ofili (Ypsilanti, Mich./Huron) reserved her spot in the 60-meter hurdle finals on the opening day at the NCAA Indoor Championships on Friday (March 14) at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
With four points from the DMR's fifth-place performance, the Wolverines are tied for 21st place after the first day. Stanford is sitting in first place with 22 total points.
The distance medley relay, which consisted of freshman Jaimie Phelan (Kitchener, Ont./St. Mary's), sophomore Maya Long (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron), sophomore Danielle Pfeifer (Cincinnati, Ohio/McAuley) and junior Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester), matched its No. 5 seed, clocking a time of 11:14.60.
Phelan ran a 3:29.76 split in the first 1,200-meter leg to give Long the baton in eighth place. Long was passed by three runners in the 400-meter leg, and Pfeifer took over in 11th place with just one team behind her. Pfeifer gained ground over her four laps, setting up Handler in the seventh position. Handler remained in that seventh spot for much of the final mile leg but used her strong closing speed and a 4:41.56 split to move Michigan into fifth before the finish line. The four members of the relay each earned All-America first team honors for their efforts. It marked the second straight year Long made the first-team list as she was a member of U-M's 2013 national champion DMR.
Ofili ran a time of 8.09 in heat two of the 60-meter hurdles to finish fourth in her heat and snag one of the four at-large qualifying spot in tomorrow's final (Saturday, March 15, 6:30 p.m. MDT). Ofili got out to a slower start than the rest of the heat but used her closing speed between the final hurdle and the finish line to close the gap. The overall top time in the prelims came from Jasmin Stowers of LSU in heat one (7.98), while Notre Dame's Jade Barber, who finished just behind Ofili secured the last spot in the finals at 8.13.
In the 5,000-meter run, freshman Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield) moved through the pack quickly and took a commanding lead just 1:50 into the race. She pushed her lead to roughly 100 meters and maintained that advantage until halfway through the race, when the chase pack slowly began to close the gap. By the 9:20 mark, that pack was on her heels. Finn held off the rest of the field for nearly three minutes, but with a little more than three minutes to go, Juliet Bottorff of Duke made a move past Finn and the rest of the pack followed. Finn crossed the line in 12th place in a time of 16:52.10, earning a spot on the All-America second team. Top-seeded Abbey D'Agostino from Dartmouth outkicked the rest of the field, winning the national title in 16:20.39.
In her second appearance at the national indoor meet and first since 2012, fifth-year senior pole vaulter Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) finished 15th with a mark of 4.20 meters (13-9.25). She cleared the opening height of 4.0 meters (13-1.5) on her second attempt before easily getting over the bar at 4.10 meters (13-5.25) in one try. Tobel got over the bar at the next height of 4.20 meters (13-9.25) on her third and final attempt and then opted to pass at her career-best height of 4.25 meters (13-11.25). She was unable to clear the bar at 4.30 meters (14-1.25) and bowed out of the competition in 15th place to earn All-America second team honors. Tobel finished one spot better than her 16th seed entering the event.
Ofili will be the only Wolverine in action tomorrow (Saturday, March 15) on the final day of the NCAA Indoor Championships, when she competes in the 60-meter hurdle finals at 6:30 p.m. MDT. If she finished the hurdle finals, Ofili is guaranteed to become a first team All-American.
Contact: Whitney Dixon (firstname.lastname@example.org)