Feb. 12, 2013
The No. 17-ranked University of Michigan women's track and field team will conclude the regular season hosting its second and final home meet of the indoor season with the non-scoring Silverston Invitational on Saturday (Feb. 16). The meet will begin at 10:30 a.m. with the field events, while running events will commence at 1 p.m. at the U-M Indoor Track Building with the annual Ann Arbor Track Club Mile. The Michigan athletic department announced that the meet will be a Pink and Blue Cancer Awareness event.
Michigan's seniors will be recognized at the starting line, prior to the start of the running events, following the national anthem at 12:45 p.m.
10:30 a.m. -- Men's Shot Put, Women's Shot Put (west)
11:30 a.m. -- Men's Long Jump, Long Jump, Men's Pole Vault
Noon -- Women's Weight Throw, Women's High Jump
1 p.m. -- Women's Triple Jump, Men's Triple Jump
1:30 p.m. -- Men's Weight Throw, Men's High Jump, Pole Vault
1 p.m. -- Ann Arbor Track Club Mile
1:20 p.m. -- Men's 60m High Hurdles, Women's 60m Hurdles
1:30 p.m. -- Men's 400m, Women's 400m
1:45 p.m. -- Men's 600m, Women's 600m
2 p.m. -- Men's 60m, Women's 60m
2:10 p.m. -- Men's 800m, Women's 800m
2:25 p.m. -- Men's 200m, Women's 200m
2:40 p.m. -- Men's One Mile, Women's One Mile
3 p.m. -- Men's 1,600m Relay, Women's 1,600m Relay
With the Big Ten Championships right around the corner on Feb. 22-23, several of Michigan's athletes who will compete in that meet, especially its distance runners, will not compete in the Silverston Invitational as they continue to train and prepare for the conference meet. The meet will provide an opportunity for many of the Wolverines' younger student-athletes to compete in front of a home crowd.
After dropping out of the USTFCCCA Division I top 25 for the last two seeks, Michigan returned to the top 25 with a national ranking of No. 17. The last time the Wolverines were ranked that high was the final regular-season poll of the 2011 season, when U-M was also ranked 17th. Michigan is also ranked No. 1 in the Great Lakes Region poll, with 14 student-athletes, as well as the 4x400-meter relay and distance medley relay, contributing to the ranking. Athletes who reach minimum predetermined standards in their respective events help improve the team's overall ranking.
At the SPIRE Invitational (Feb. 8-9), senior Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven) won the 800-meter run for the second straight year with a time of 2:04.01. Fifth-year senior Amanda Eccleston (Adrian, Mich./Tecumseh) won the mile run in a time of 4:37.33 and ran the 1,600-meter leg of the winning distance medley relay (11:09.39), which competed for the first time this season. In the field, senior/junior Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) won the pole vault with a season-best vault of 4.22 meters (13-10). All four marks rank first in the Big Ten and within the top 15 in the NCAA.
Sixteen different student-athletes recorded personal-best marks at the SPIRE Invitational, nine of which came from the middle-distance and distance events. In the 800-meter run, Rebecca Addison, who won the race in 2:04.01, led a group of six U-M runners who each finished the race less than seven seconds apart. Senior Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) finished fourth with a time of 2:06.72. Senior/junior Meg Bellino (Monroe, Mich./Catholic Central) (2:08.18), freshman Danielle Pfeifer (Cincinnati, Ohio/McAuley) (2:08.22) and sophomore/freshman Devon Hoppe (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona Del Mar) (2:08.52) finished consecutively in 13th, 14th and 15th place, while senior/junior Jami Hill (Onalaska, Wis./Onalaska) placed 23rd in 2:10.92. The group currently owns the first, fourth, ninth, 10th, 11th and 22nd fastest times, respectively, in the Big Ten standings. Bellino, Pfeifer, Hoppe and Hill each registered career-best times.
Senior/junior Sara Nitz (Zeeland, Mich./Zeeland East), who suffered a season-ending back injury in the 2011 outdoor season and missed the 2012 indoor and most of outdoor season, has returned as Michigan's high jumper this season. She cleared a personal-best height of 1.75 meters (5-8.75) at the SPIRE Invitational to finish third. She currently ranks sixth in the Big Ten standings.
Freshman Cindy Ofili clocked the 11th-fastest time in the nation and top time in the Big Ten (8.24) to finish runner up in the 60-meter hurdles at the SPIRE Invitational. She has continued to improve her personal-best time each week, clocking times of 8.54, 8.51, 8.44, 8.26, and 8.24, respectively, in U-M's first five meets.
With just one meet remaining until the Big Ten Indoor Championships, the Wolverines have 11 student-athletes and one relay ranked in the Big Ten's top eight in their respective events (the top eight finishers score at championship meets). Four athletes are ranked in the top eight in two events, including Brook Handler (800m, mile), Amanda Eccleston (mile, 3,000m), Shannon Osika (mile, 3,000m) and Rebecca Addison (800m, mile), while Erin Busbee has accomplished the feat in three events (long jump, triple jump, pentathlon).
Wolverines in the Big Ten Rankings
Meg Bellino -- 600m, 7th, 1:31.68
Rebecca Addison -- 800m, 1st, 2:04.01
Jillian Smith -- 800m, 4th, 2:06.72
Brook Handler -- 800m, 8th, 2:10.19
Amanda Eccleston -- mile, 1st, 4:37.33
Shannon Osika -- mile, 3rd, 4:40.28
Brook Handler -- mile, 4th, 4:40.63
Rebecca Addison -- mile, 7th, 4:44.11#
Shannon Osika -- 3,000m, 9:21.09
Amanda Eccleston -- 3,000m, 8th, 9:25.27
Cindy Ofili -- 60m hurdles, 1st, 8.24
Amber Smith -- 60m hurdles, 4th, 8.33
Kiley Tobel -- pole vault, 1st, 13-10 ft.
Erin Busbee -- long jump, 4th, 19-7.50 ft.
Ada Unachukwu -- triple jump, 4th, 41-1 ft.
Erin Busbee -- triple jump, 6th, 40-8.75 ft.
Erin Busbee -- pentathlon, 3rd, 3,933 points
Distance Medley Relay -- 1st, 11:09.39
# = converted time
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 ]
In the Spotlight
| Sara Nitz
On recording a new personal-best height at the SPIRE Invitational ... "I'm really excited about what happened this weekend. I think it's a really good indicator of what I'm capable of. I like the fact that that's where Big Tens are because I like the track, I really like that pit, and it's kind of a good introduction to where we'll be going. This coming weekend we have a home meet, and I'm looking forward to getting out there again and working on being more consistent at higher heights because I haven't really been that high in a while, and it can be a little intimidating. But I'm not the only person that has been doing well and really coming together. This team has so much potential, and we're continuing to improve every week, and it's really exciting to see."
On overcoming injuries to return to competition ... "I fractured one of my vertebrae my sophomore year, and that was really rough because at first we didn't know what was going on, and it was getting progressively worse. It was kind of a downward spiral during indoors my sophomore year, and that was really rough. It hurt to walk, and I was in a brace. Sports are a big part of what I do, not just track, but I love being active, and it really scared me that I wouldn't be able to do anything, much less compete in track. And then my junior year, I re-injured it again, not as bad, but it was a big step backwards. When the season ended last year, I was able to take a step back and get refreshed and train over the summer. This year when I came back, it was really cool because everything started clicking. I knew what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong and opposed to last year, I knew how to fix it. So that's really exciting. I've hit my collegiate PR this year, and it's nice to be back where I know I should be and be able to contribute and be useful part of the team."
On what helped her stay focused and get back to where she is now ... "My team has been really supportive and Coach Henry has always been great, telling me that I can come back and jump when I'm ready. Taking time off this summer from jumping and just getting some good lifting in and some cross training was really helpful. It allowed me a take a step back and remember why I'm at Michigan, high jumping -- it's what I love. Brianna Jenkins, our other high jumper, really helps push me -- we push each other, and I think we work really well together as teammates. I'm really glad I stuck it out and just didn't give up."
On being part of a team that's seeing good performances across the board ... "I'm so excited for Big Tens this year. This is the strongest team we've had going into Big Tens in my time here. It's exciting, that's the only word I can use. We have so many capable people and such a good team. We're so versatile -- you just look around the track and there are so many talented people. We just need to do what we can do and continue to improve like we have this entire season."
On the team's mentality as they continue to prepare for Big Tens ... "I think this year, as a team, we're very mature. Even the freshmen have really been doing great work. Every meet that we've had is just a preview of what we can do. Our adrenaline will be higher when the day comes because it is Big Tens, but at the end of the day, we've put in the work, and this is where it matters. We just have to go out there and preform and do our best and have fun because you need to have fun when you compete. I think everyone can, and has been, handling the pressure of competition really well."
A LOOK AHEAD
Fri-Sat., Feb. 22-23 -- at Big Ten Indoor Championships (Geneva, Ohio), 10 a.m.
Fri-Sat., March 1-2 -- at Notre Dame Alex Wilson Invitational (South Bend, Ind.), 6 p.m./11 a.m.
Saturday, March 2 -- at Virginia Tech Final Qualifier (Blacksburg, Va.), 10 a.m.