Winners Sereno, Phelan Lead Women to Fifth at Big Tens
Jaimie Phelan

May 14, 2017

» The U-M women finished fifth overall in the team standings with 79 points.
» Gina Sereno won the 5,000-meter title to complete the 5,000/10,000-meter sweep for the second year in a row, becoming just the third woman in conference history to accomplish that feat.
» Jaimie Phelan won the 1,500-meter title and doubled back to finish third at 800 meters an hour later.
» Jamie Morrissey and Haley Meier both finished fifth behind Phelan at 800 and 1,500 meters, respectively.

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Site: State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion Outdoor Track)
Event: Big Ten Outdoor Championships (Day 3)
U-M Team Score: 5th Place of 13 Teams (79 points)
Next U-M Event: Thu-Sat., May 25-27 -- at NCAA East Preliminaries (Lexington, Ky.)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Paced by individual titles from Gina Sereno and Jaimie Phelan, the University of Michigan women's track and field team closed out the final day of the Big Ten Outdoor Championships on Sunday (May 14) with a fifth-place showing in the team standings at Nittany Lion Outdoor Track.

With her dramatic victory at 5,000 meters on Sunday, Sereno chipped in 10 points and became the first woman since 1989-90 to sweep the 5,000- and 10,000-meter titles in back-to-back seasons, while Phelan took the win at 1,500 meters and doubled back less than an hour later for a come-from-behind third-place finish at 800 meters for 16 total points.

When all was said and done, the Wolverines ended up with 79 points, only five-and-a-half out of fourth place behind rival Ohio State. Purdue was the team champion with 133 points.

Of those 79 points, 50 came by way of five individual event titles -- tied for the fourth-highest total in program history and matching the five wins by last year's co-championship team. In addition to Sereno's two wins and Phelan's victory, the Wolverines claimed two field event titles on Saturday (May 13) courtesy of high jumper Claire Kieffer-Wright and heptathlete Aaron Howell.

Underscoring the strong leadership in the U-M program, all four of the champions also serve as co-captains for the 2017 squad.

Sereno's win at 5,000 meters evoked flashbacks to her 2017 Big Ten Indoor Championships win at 3,000 meters earlier this season, as the Wolverines' final event of the weekend once again came down to Sereno outkicking Indiana's Katherine Receveur. The 3.1-mile contest ultimately boiled down to a 100-meter footrace down the homestretch as Sereno ran strong through the line to finish in 16:23.24 -- just .05 clear of the Hoosier.

For much of the race, Sereno paced a lead pack that slowly but surely whittled down throughout the race as she maintained a robust pace. The pace briefly slowed from 1:18 laps in the middle of the race to three consecutive splits of 1:21, congealing the lead pack back together and setting the stage for a dramatic final lap.

By the time the bell sounded for the final lap, a group of seven was well clear of the rest of the field with Sereno squarely in the middle in fourth. On the strength of what was ultimately be a 68-second final lap, Sereno and Receveur managed to just pull far enough apart to set up their dramatic finish.

With the win, Sereno now owns five Big Ten individual track titles and becomes the third woman in meet history to sweep the 5,000 and 10,000 meters titles in back-to-back seasons. The last woman to accomplish the feat was former Michigan great Mindy Rowand in 1989 and 1990.

Sereno's victory capped a prolific day for the distance squad in Happy Valley as the Wolverines' trio of Phelan, Jamie Morrissey and Haley Meier combined for 24 points at 1,500 and 800 meters.

Phelan's victory at 1,500 meters had much in common with Sereno's win as she outkicked All-American Danae Rivers of Penn State down the straightaway to win in 4:21.17. She was followed seconds later by Meier in 4:24.62 for fifth place.

Using the blustery winds of the homestretch to her advantage, Phelan made her move with 500 meters to go to swing into the lead at the bell. She covered the last lap in a blistering 1:02.45 split, more than eight seconds faster than any of the preceding two full laps of the track.

Hers was the second win in a row for Michigan at that distance, following up on Shannon Osika's victory a year ago.

Less than an hour later, Phelan was back on the track for the 800 final alongside Morrissey. After coming through the first lap in sixth place, Phelan once again surged on the final lap to run down three opponents for a third-place finish in a career-best 2:05.78.

Morrissey, who came through at the bell in second, held on for a fifth-place finish in 2:07.29.

Jade Harrison was the lone non-distance finalist of the day for the Wolverines, as the freshman finished ninth at 200 meters in a windy 23.67 (+2.7m/s).

Next up for the Wolverines will be the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds on May 25-27 at Kentucky. The top-48 entries in the East Region will earn berths to the meet, which serves as the opening rounds of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships next month in Eugene, Oregon.

The final qualifiers for the East Preliminaries will be announced this week.

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Communications Contact: Kyle Terwillegar