Eccleston Wins 1,500, U-M Takes Fourth at Big Ten Outdoors
Amanda Eccleston

May 12, 2013

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Site: Columbus, Ohio (Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium)
Event: Big Ten Outdoor Championships (Day 3 of 3)
U-M Team Result: 4th Place of 11 Teams (82 points)
Next U-M Event:
Thu-Sat., May 23-25 -- at NCAA East Preliminary Rounds (Greensboro, N.C.)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The University of Michigan women's track and field team was led by fifth-year senior Amanda Eccleston's (Adrian, Mich./Tecumseh) victory in the 1,500-meter run on the final day of the Big Ten Outdoor Championships on Sunday (May 12) at Ohio State's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Wolverines finished in fourth place overall with 82 points, including 25 that came from U-M's 1-3-4-5 finish in the 1,500. Penn State won the team title (133 points).

Eccleston began to pull away down the final stretch with a strong kick, crossing the line at 4:20.75. Senior Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven), the 2011 1,500-meter champion, had the lead at the start of the bell lap but was edged on the final straightaway to take third place in 4:21.55. Sophomore/freshman Shannon Osika (Waterford, Mich./Mott) (4:23.00) and senior/junior Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) (4:23.72) followed in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Eccleston earned All-Big Ten first team accolades for her winning performance.

In the high jump, senior/junior Sara Nitz (Zeeland, Mich./Zeeland East) used a personal-best leap of 1.74 meters (5-8.5) to finish runner-up and earn All-Big Ten second team honors.

Freshman Cindy Ofili (Ypsilanti, Mich./Huron) clocked a personal-best time of 13.30 in the 100-meter hurdles to finish third, while junior Amber Smith (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) matched her career best of 13.64 to place seventh.

The 4x100-meter relay, which consisted of Smith, Ofili, junior Erin Busbee (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) and senior Charlotte Cahill (Farmington Hills, Mich./North Farmington), took third place with a time of 45.90.

Senior Erin Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore), the defending Big Ten discus champion, recorded a mark of 51.81 meters (169-11) to finish in fourth place.

In the triple jump, senior Ada Unachukwu (Morganville, N.J./Marlboro) qualified for finals before finishing fifth with a mark of 12.53 meters (41-1.5).

Michigan will have one week off before select members of the squad compete in the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds from May 23-25 in Greensboro, N.C. The regional fields will be announced on Thursday, May 16.

Final Team Standings

 1. Penn State           133
 2. Illinois             120
 3. Ohio State            86
 4. MICHIGAN              82
 5. Michigan State        76
 6. Nebraska              75
 7. Wisconsin             74.5
 8. Minnesota             66.5
 9. Indiana               38
10. Purdue                37
11. Iowa                  31

Event Winners/U-M Finishers (Day 3)

800-meter Run (finals)
 1. Samantha Murphy, Illinois           2:06.62
 8. Rebecca Addison, U-M                2:14.49
1,500-meter Run (finals)
 1. Amanda Eccleston, U-M               4:20.75
 3. Rebecca Addison, U-M                4:21.55
 4. Shannon Osika, U-M                  4:23.00
 5. Jillian Smith, U-M                  4:23.72
5,000-meter Run
 1. Leah O'Connor, Michigan State      16:09.46
14. Shannon Osika, U-M                 16:35.37
17. Amanda Eccleston, U-M              16:38.57
24. Taylor Manett, U-M                 17:02.85
100-meter Hurdles (finals)
 1. Evonne Britton, Penn State            13.13
 3. Cindy Ofili, U-M                      13.30
 7. Amber Smith, U-M                      13.64
 9. Erin Busbee, U-M                      13.89
4x100-meter Relay (finals)
 1. Ohio State                            44.76
 3. MICHIGAN                              45.90
   (Amber Smith, Cindy Ofili,
    Erin Busbee, Charlotte Cahill)
4x400-meter Relay
 1. Illinois                            3:36.18
10. MICHIGAN                            3:51.34
   (Amber Smith, Alexandria Williams,
    Meg Bellino, Charlotte Cahill)
High Jump
 1. Emma Kimoto, Indiana                   1.77m (5-9.75)
 2. Sara Nitz, U-M                         1.74m (5-8.5)
Triple Jump
 1. Mara Griva, Nebraska                  13.24m (43-5.25)
 5. Ada Unachukwu, U-M                    12.53m (41-1.5)
 9. Erin Busbee, U-M                      12.05m (39-6.5)
 1. Beth Rohl, Michigan State             55.22m (181-2)
 4. Erin Pendleton, U-M                   51.81m (169-11)

• Previous Results: Day 2 | Day 1

Personal Bests
Cindy Ofili -- 100m Hurdles (13.30)
Sara Nitz -- High Jump (1.74m, 5-8.5)


• Michigan's fourth-place team finish is its best since 2009 when the Wolverines placed second.

Amanda Eccleston has now won the Big Ten indoor mile and outdoor 1,500-meter run, earning All-Big Ten first team honors on both occasions.


Michigan Head Coach James Henry
On the team's fourth-place performance ... "Between day two and three we talked about every point counting. We knew we could be second and we could be eighth all in a 10 or 12-point range and it turned out that we were somewhere in the middle with third place slipping away at the end."

On Sara Nitz's performance in the high jump ... "That was probably the highlight of the meet for me personally because she's been through so much -- so many physical ailments and challenges that she's had. She's been an outstanding student and an outstanding individual. She works really hard and for it to show and pay off in possibly her last Big Ten Outdoor Championship, the team would say, that was probably the pleasant surprise and the biggest performance of the day."

Michigan Associate Head Coach Mike McGuire
On Amanda Eccleston winning the indoor mile and outdoor 1,500m ... "It's a combination of a highly competitive athlete that has continued to get better. The benefit of having a great group of training partners has really facilitated her improvement to this level. I think she still has some business to finish at regionals and nationals and some room for growth post-collegiately."

On scoring 25 points in the 1,500m ... "Shannon Osika definitely got it going, but I think her teammates did a good job of helping her out. Amanda's first-place performance is a combination of what she did and the help from Shannon and Becca (Addison). I think they all had opportunities to be the gold medalists, but obviously one of them was going to be able to do that. They all did a great job."

On other standout distance performances ... "I thought our steeplers did a good job. Brook (Handler) PR'd by a couple seconds and Megan Weschler ran a 12-second PR, which was nice and a big breakthrough for her to score. Alex (Leptich) had a seasonal best, which is still a little bit off her lifetime best. She was in a position to go either way about 2K into the race and she did a good job of finishing and it could be a springboard for her going into regionals. We got great effort from the 10K girls -- I think Taylor (Pogue) still has another one in her. Shannon (Osika) did a good job with a PR coming back in the 5K after the 1,500m. We're trying to expand her racing resume and I thought she did a commendable job."

U-M Fifth-Year Senior Amanda Eccleston
On winning the indoor mile and outdoor 1,500m ... "It's very exciting, especially do to it at the level of the Big Ten in my first year in the conference. I've always looked up to the Big Ten as such a prestigious conference, so to come back and defend my title outdoor was a great opportunity, especially to do it with four girls in the final made it so much better."

On having four Wolverines in the 1,500m final ... "It just shows the depth of our mid-distance team. It comes from working hard together in practice and really pushing each other. We went out there to try and score as many points as possible for the team because we knew that was our power event with four people in the final and it worked almost perfectly. It was incredible."

On the team effort this weekend ... "I think today I felt that everyone was putting everything out there on the line. We did have a few things not go quite as planned and personally I didn't run quite as well as I would have liked in the 5K, but I think when you look overall, everyone was out there pushing in every event. We had a lot of people step up, including Sara (Nitz) in the high jump and our 4x1 relay. Those performances help encourage you even when we're struggling in other areas."

Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423