Jan. 29, 2013
Fri-Sat., Feb. 1-2 -- at Notre Dame Meyo Invitational (South Bend, Ind.), 4 p.m./10 a.m.
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The University of Michigan women's track and field team will compete in its first two-day invitational of the indoor season with the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 1-2). The meet is set to start at 4 p.m. on Friday and resume again on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Notre Dame's Loftus Center in South Bend, Ind.
Michigan has competed in the non-scoring Meyo Invitational in each of the last 10 years. The annual meets boasts nearly 80 men's and women's teams from around the country. The Loftus Center features one of the largest six-lane banked tracks in the nation at one-fifth of a mile. The facility's Mondo track surface, lengthy straightaway and wide turns make for optimum conditions.
In nine of the last 10 years in which Michigan has competed in the Meyo Invitational, the Wolverines' distance medley relay has run an NCAA automatic-qualifying time. Michigan finished in the top three in each of those years, winning the event on five occasions, including 2012. The Maize and Blue did not compete in the distance medley relay in 2010. Although there are no NCAA automatic-qualifying times this year, Michigan will run the DMR at Notre Dame with the focus of running one of the top times on the NCAA descending order list in order to qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
This weekend, Michigan's relay squad will consist of sophomore Shannon Osika (Waterford, Mich./Mott) in the 1,200-meter run, senior Charlotte Cahill (Farmington Hills, Mich./North Farmington) in the 400-meter, senior Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) in the 800-meter and senior Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven) in the 1,600-meter. It will be the Wolverines' first time competing in the distance medley relay this season.
The Wolverines defeated No. 24 Michigan State on Saturday, Jan. 26, in the first dual meet between the two teams in program history. Michigan won nine of 15 events and went 1-2 in four events to earn the victory.
After three weeks of competition, the Wolverines have 12 student-athletes ranked in the Big Ten's top eight in their respective events (the top eight finishers score at championship meets). Three athletes are ranked in the top eight in two events, including Brook Handler (800m, mile), Rebecca Addison (mile, 3,000m) and Erin Busbee (long jump, triple jump).
Wolverines in the Big Ten Rankings
Meg Bellino -- 600m, 8th, 1:32.49
Jillian Smith -- 800m, 2nd, 2:08.91
Brook Handler -- 800m, 6th, 2:10.19
Shannon Osika -- mile, 2nd, 4:41.34
Amanda Eccleston -- mile, 4th, 4:42.27#
Rebecca Addison -- mile, 5th, 4:44.11#
Brook Handler -- mile, 6th, 4:45.02
Rebecca Addison -- 3,000m, 7th, 9:26.76
Amber Smith -- 60m hurdles, 2nd, 8.38
Cindy Ofili -- 60m hurdles, 5th, 8.44
Kiley Tobel -- pole vault, 1st, 13-7.25 ft.
Erin Busbee -- long jump, t-3rd, 19-6 ft.
Tofunmi Akeredolu -- long jump, 7th, 19-2 ft.
Ada Unachukwu -- triple jump, 3rd, 41-1 ft.
Erin Busbee -- triple jump, 4th, 40-8.75 ft.
# = converted time
Early Impact: Freshman Cindy Ofili recorded 13 of Michigan's 89 points against the Spartans, winning the 60- and 200-meter dashes and placing second in the 60-meter hurdles. Freshman Maya Long finished runner-up in the 400-meter dash against the Spartans and has been a consistent member of Michigan's 4x400-meter relay team.
Family Ties: Freshman Cindy Ofili is the younger sister of former Wolverine, five-time NCAA Champion, and 2012 Olympian, Tiffany (Ofili) Porter (2006-09), as well as Alex Ofili, who played football at U-M (2002, 04). Newcomer Elly Mioduszewski is the younger sister of Melany Mioduszewski, who ran cross country for U-M in 2009. Erin Pendleton is the younger sister of two-time Big Ten champion discus thrower Emily Pendleton (2008-10, 12). Sophomore/freshman Laura Addison and senior Rebecca Addison are the only sisters remaining on the Wolverine roster this season. Junior Amber Smith and senior Jillian Smith have no relation.
Qualifying Standards for NCAA Championships -- There are no qualifying standards for the championships season. There will be a track indexing standard to delineate the different indexing among flat, undersized, banked and oversized. Qualification to the championships is based on descending-order list for the season. For each individual event contested, the top 16 declared student-athletes will be accepted into the competition. For each relay event contested, the top 12 declared relay teams will be accepted into the competition. [ USTFCCCA Selection Criteria ]
This year's Big Ten Indoor Championships will be held at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Michigan competed at the SPIRE Institute last year in the SPIRE Invitational and will do so again this season Feb. 8-9. The NCAA Indoor Championships will be hosted by the University of Arkansas.
In the Spotlight
On balancing her training as a multi-event athlete ... "Most of my training is running based during our conditioning time. I just start running with everyone else and once we hit the season, I start doing more technical work. I work as a hurdler a lot more than any other event because it's worth a lot of points. I throw in a day to work on shot put and once we get outside, I'll throw in a day for javelin. The jumps just sort of come naturally. I haven't really done much long jump or triple jump work at all. A lot of my training for the jumps comes from doing power drills, weight sleds and weight training in general. Technical work doesn't really help me; it just gets me thinking too much and trying too hard, so I've learned to rely on the fact that naturally, I can jump, and the more challenging the jump becomes, the form and technique just come with it."
On working with all three coaches in different events ... "They are all very involved. My main coach is Coach Henry -- I run with him, all my jumps are with him. I know he has a lot of confidence in me and trusts me and knowing that helps me to relax. He's going to tell you what to do, expect you to do it and keep reinforcing the things that he wants you to do, so I like that about him. Coach Fowler is also really involved with every aspect of the team, which is good for us because we know that she cares about everyone, even those she doesn't work with us on a daily basis. She's always watching us and asking how our training is going, so she's involved in all aspects of my training, not just the throws. She does a great job of balancing out my throwing workouts with my other event training. She's very involved and always encouraging us, so I enjoy that about her. And then there's Coach McGuire, who is always watching us from different angles. He might not say much and then randomly he'll come up to you and say 'good job' and give you some advice. You know he cares and is always watching, so you really want to work hard for him."
On the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships as a breakthrough as a multi ... "I think for me, doing the heptathlon at Big Tens helped me because I wanted to do well for the team. I was thinking about the bigger picture, beyond myself. I knew that if I went out there and gave it my all in every event, I could do well and make an impact on our team points. And if I keep working at it I know I can possibly break the school record if I keep getting my performances up. So looking at the future and the possibility of helping the team has helped me to do better and strive to become a better multi."
On having strong teammates in each event area to work with ... "It definitely helps to not only have training partners but to have people who are good in their event or better in that event than me, so they can help me out. As a multi, I came in with one event that I specialized in in high school and the other events I'm still getting the hang of, so to have people around me that are dedicated to that event training with me and giving me advice definitely helps me a whole lot. In the hurdles especially, having Tiffany (Porter), Uhunoma (Osazuwa), Amber (Smith) and Cindy (Ofili), they're all great hurdlers, so that has helped me a lot. If I can keep up with them, I can do better in the multi."
On the difference between competing in open events versus the full pentathlon ... "It's an entirely different mindset. We usually go into the season knowing that I'll do that multi twice during the season -- once during the season and once at Big Tens, and then hopefully at nationals. Doing the pentathlon too many times in a season would get too tiring. With the multi, even though there are multiple events, it's all one event so you have to separate them, but know that they all go together. So if I do something wrong in the first event, I have to drop it and move onto the next one, but still remember that it's going to affect my points for later. Whereas if I'm doing open events and I mess up in the hurdles, the next event is just the next event and has nothing to do with the hurdles. I think that it's the connectedness of the events that puts more pressure on you to keep up your performances throughout the whole thing and also focus on one thing at a time. Each event is only about a half hour apart, so it's hard to not think ahead and stay in the moment."
A LOOK AHEAD
Fri-Sat., Feb. 8-9 -- at SPIRE Invitational (Geneva, Ohio), 2 p.m./10 a.m.
Saturday, Feb. 16 -- host Silverston Invitational (U-M Indoor Track Building), 10:30 a.m.