Feb. 26, 2014
Fri-Sat., Feb. 28-March 1 -- at Big Ten Championships (Geneva, Ohio), 10 a.m.
Also follow along with the action on Twitter by using #B1GTF and @BigTenChamps.
The University of Michigan women's track and field team is set to kick off the championship portion of its season at the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 28-March 1) at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Competition will begin at 10 a.m. each day. This weekend's event will mark the second straight year the indoor conference championship is hosted at a neutral site instead of on a Big Ten campus.
The SPIRE Institute was built in Geneva, Ohio, in 2008 to provide a centralized location to host various athletic events on all levels, including the 2013 and 2014 Big Ten Indoor Championships. The GaREAT Sports Complex is the nation's largest track and field center and features an eight-lane 300-meter Beynon track with two full 150-meter straightaways.
The Big Ten Network will be on site at the conference championships to catch the action and get exclusive interviews with student-athletes and coaches. The championships will air on the Big Ten Network on Saturday, March 8, at 10:30 a.m.
Two Big Ten schools are currently ranked in the USTFCCCA Division I top 25 -- No. 11 Penn State and No. 17 Purdue. Michigan dropped out of the top 25 in the final regular-season USTFCCCA DI National Coaches' Poll of the indoor season on Tuesday (Feb. 26) after being ranked the entire season.
Wolverines in the Big Ten Quick Hits
Michigan has won eight indoor Big Ten team titles, including four in a span of five seasons (2002, '03, '05, '06).
Fifty-five different Michigan student-athletes have won a total of 81 Big Ten indoor titles (68 individual and 13 relays) in U-M's 36 years as a varsity program.
Michigan has won the distance medley relay in 11 of the last 12 years, including 10 consecutive Big Ten titles (2004-13).
Katie Erdman (2003-06) and Geena Gall (2006-09) hold the most individual Big Ten indoor titles in program history with seven apiece.
Michigan finished third at the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships with 89 points -- a four spot improvement from the 2012 conference meet (7th).
Last Time at the SPIRE Institute
The Wolverines competed at the SPIRE Institute two weeks ago (Feb. 14-15) to prepare for the conference championships. Eighteen different student-athletes recorded personal-best marks at that meet.
Sophomore Cindy Ofili set school records in the 60-meter dash (7.40) and 200-meter dash (23.86) to finish second in both events and won the 60-meter hurdles (8.20) to highlight the sprinting events.
Freshman Erin Finn won the 5,000-meter run in her first time competing in that event as a Wolverine. Her time of 15:57.32 set a new SPIRE record and was just .59 seconds off the school record.
Michigan's distance medley relay of freshman Jaimie Phelan (1,200m), Maya Long (400m), sophomore Danielle Pfeifer (800m) and junior Brook Handler (mile) defended its title at SPIRE while also setting a new facility record of 11:00.20, which leads the Big Ten this season by more than 12 seconds.
Distance Medley Relay Splits at SPIRE
Phelan (1,200m) -- 3:25.9
Long (400m) -- 53.9
Pfeifer (800m) -- 2:05.6
Handler (mile) -- 4:34.6
Athletes to Watch
Sophomore Cindy Ofili has scoring capability for U-M in three different events for U-M. She currently ranks second in the Big Ten in the 60m hurdles, fourth in the 60m dash and sixth in the 200m dash. At the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships, she finished runner-up in the 60-meter hurdles and seventh in the 60-meter dash. She has finished third or better in every event she has competed in so far this season, winning 10 of the 14 events.
Junior Brook Handler clocked the Big Ten's second-fastest 800-meter time this season at the SPIRE Invitational (Feb. 15), running a personal-best 2:06.14. She also owns the Big Ten's top mile time with her personal best of 4:37.68. She will also be a member of U-M's 10-time defending champion distance medley relay.
Freshman Jaimie Phelan owns the Big Ten's third-fastest time in the 800-meter run with a PR of 2:06.38, which she ran at the SPIRE Invitational (Feb. 15). She will also be a member of U-M's 10-time defending champion distance medley relay.
Freshman Erin Finn, the 2013 Big Ten cross country champion, made her collegiate debut in the 5,000-meter run at the SPIRE Invitational (Feb. 14), winning the event with a time of 15:57.32, which is just .59 seconds off the 25-year-old school record. She also ranks second in the 3,000-meter run with her time of 9:11.10# (converted time) that is less than two seconds off the indoor school record.
Fifth-year senior Kiley Tobel continues to lead the Big Ten this season with her school-record setting vault of 4.25 meters (13-11.25). She finished runner-up at the 2013 conference meet and has won the pole vault at the SPIRE Invitational in each of the last two years.
Senior Erin Busbee has scoring capability in three events (long jump, triple jump, 60m hurdles) for U-M. She currently ranks third in the Big Ten in the long jump (6.10m, 20-0.25) and eighth in the 60-meter hurdles (8.43). After competing in the pentathlon, as well as the open triple jump, at last year's conference meet, she will only compete in three open events this year.
Freshman Aaron Howell competed in her first collegiate pentathlon at the SPIRE Invitational (Feb. 14), finishing runner-up with 3,887 points, which rank fifth in the Big Ten.
Michigan's distance medley relay has won the Big Ten title in each of the last 10 years and holds the conference's top time heading into the meet (11:00.20). Each leg of U-M's Big Ten relay will be occupied by a new runner this season, including freshman Jaimie Phelan (1,200m), Maya Long (400m), sophomore Danielle Pfeifer (800m), and junior Brook Handler (mile).
Wolverines in the Big Ten Rankings
Heading into the Big Ten Indoor Championships, the Wolverines have seven 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). Cindy Ofili (60m, 60mH, 200m), Erin Finn (mile, 3,000m, 5,000m) and Brook Handler (800m, mile, DMR) are each ranked in three events, while Erin Busbee (long jump, 60mH) made the list in two events.
Brook Handler -- 800m, 2nd, 2:06.16; mile, 1st, 4:37.68
Jaimie Phelan -- 800m, 3rd, 2:06.38
Erin Finn -- 5,000m, 1st, 15:57.32; 3,000m, 2nd, 9:11.10#; mile, 7th, 4:45.54
Cindy Ofili -- 60m hurdles, 2nd, 8.20; 60m, 4th, 7.40; 200m, 6th, 23:86
Erin Busbee -- long jump, 3rd, 6.10m (20-0.25); 60m hurdles, 8th, 8.43
Kiley Tobel -- pole vault, 1st, 4.25m (13-11.25)
Aaron Howell -- pentathlon, 5th, 3,887 points
Jaimie Phelan, Maya Long, Danielle Pfeifer, Brook Handler -- DMR, 1st, 11:00.20
# = converted time
Six Wolverines who scored points at the 2013 conference meet will return for U-M this season:
Cindy Ofili -- 60mH (2nd, 8.22); 60m (7th, 7.50)
Danielle Pfeifer -- 800m (7th, 2:06.96)
Devon Hoppe -- 800m (8th, 2:07.33)
Brook Handler -- mile (5th, 4:43.67)
Kiley Tobel -- pole vault (2nd, 4.15m, 13-7.25)
Victoria Wesley -- pole vault (6th, 3.85m, 12-7.5)
HENRY HITS 30-YEAR MILESTONE
Head coach James Henry is in his 30th season at the helm of the program. During his time at U-M, Henry has led the Wolverines to 14 Big Ten titles, including seven indoor and seven outdoor. U-M's track and cross country programs also teamed up to win a pair of triple crowns in 1993-94 and 2002-03 (Big Ten cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field titles in the same academic year). Individually, he has helped produce 153 NCAA All-Americans, 182 All-Big Ten honorees, 181 individual Big Ten champions, nine national champions and four national championship relay teams.
THE 2014 WOLVERINES
Team Captains: Senior/junior distance runner Taylor Pogue (Goodrich, Mich./Goodrich), senior hurdler Amber Smith (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) and fifth-year senior pole vaulter Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) will serve as team captains for the 2014 season. Smith and Tobel are each serving for the second straight year, while Pogue also represented the U-M cross country squad as a captain this past fall.
Returning All-Americans: Michigan returned four indoor NCAA All-Americans, including three that earned the honors during the 2013 season. Senior Erin Busbee (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood)and sophomore Maya Long (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron) each earned First Team All-America honors a year ago. Busbee finished sixth in the long jump, while Long ran the 400-meter leg of U-M's national champion distance medley relay team. Junior Shannon Osika (Waterford, Mich./Mott) earned Second Team All-America honors in the mile run for the second straight year, finishing 14th overall. Fifth-year senior Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) earned All-America first team recognition in the pole vault during the 2012 season.
In the Record Books: Sophomore Cindy Ofili set two new school records in the 60- and 200-meter dash at the 2014 SPIRE Invitational with times of 7.40 and 23.86, respectively. Senior Erin Busbee and fifth-year senior Kiley Tobel also each hold indoor school records in their respective events. Busbee owns the indoor long jump record with a mark of 6.38 meters (20-11 1/4), which she recorded at a last chance meet to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Busbee was ranked 71st in the nation heading into the last chance meet, when her record-setting jump propelled her into a tie for seventh and onto the national championships, where she finished sixth. Tobel increased her own indoor pole vault school record at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational on Jan. 18 (4.25 meters, 13-11 1/4) and also owns the outdoor pole vault record (4.25 meters, 13-11 1/4).
Lifetime Teammates: Sophomores Cindy Ofili and Maya Long, as well as junior Chinyere Onimo were high school teammates at Huron High School in Ann Arbor. All three compete in sprinting events for the Wolverines.
U-M Family Ties: Sophomore 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). Senior/junior Elly Mioduszewski is the younger sister of Melany Mioduszewski, who ran cross country and track for U-M in 2008 and 2009. Sophomore Hailey Middlebrook and freshman Darby Middlebrook are the only sisters on the roster this season. Senior Amber Smith, fifth-year senior Jillian Smith and freshman Jillian Smith have no relation.
2013 IN REVIEW
Coach Henry's 2013 squad produced its best Big Ten team finishes since 2009, placing third at the indoor conference meet and fourth at the outdoor event. Fifth-year senior Amanda Eccleston captured the indoor mile and outdoor 1,500-meter run titles and also ran the anchor leg of Michigan's NCAA champion distance medley relay, which set a new school record (10:56.46). Rebecca Addison, Jillian Smith and freshman sprinter Maya Long joined Eccleston on the winning relay. The Big Ten DMR (Shannon Osika, Meg Bellino, Smith and Addison) captured the program's 10th straight conference crown. In addition to U-M's DMR winning the national title, junior multi-event athlete Erin Busbee finished sixth in the long jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships to propel the Wolverines to a tie for 15th place -- its best team result since 2009.
Michigan lost several Big Ten point scorers from its 2013 team to graduation. The Wolverines graduated 36 of its 89 total points in individual events from the indoor conference meet, as well as three members of its winning distance medley relay and two members of the seventh-place 4x400-meter relay -- Amanda Eccleston (Mile, 1st; 3,000m, 2nd), Meg Bellino ((DMR - 400m, 1st; 4x4 Relay, 7th), Rebecca Addison (800m, 5th; DMR - 800m, 1st), Ada Unachukwu (triple jump, 3rd), Tofunmi Akeredolu (long jump, 7th) and Charlotte Cahill (4x4 Relay, 7th). Jillian Smith (800m, 3rd; DMR - Mile, 1st) has no remaining indoor eligibility, but will return for her final outdoor season in the spring.
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. Due to new NCAA legislation, last-chance meets will no longer be held the week prior to the national indoor meet. [ USTFCCCA Selection Criteria ]
Following a week break after the Big Ten Indoor Championships, the NCAA Indoor Championships will be hosted by the University of New Mexico (March 14-15).
A LOOK AHEAD
Fri-Sat., March 14-15 -- at NCAA Indoor Championships (Albuquerque, N.M.), 10 a.m./11 a.m. MST
Fri-Sat., March 28-29 -- at Raleigh Relays - Outdoor Opener (Raleigh, N.C.), 8:45 a.m./9:30 a.m.
Contact: Whitney Dixon (email@example.com)