March 13, 2014
Sophomore Maya Long, the only returning member of U-M's 2013 national champion distance medlay relay, discusses this year's relay and the feeling of winning the program's 11th straight Big Ten DMR title.
On winning the 11th straight Big Ten DMR title ... "We were all really excited going in. We didn't know what the outcome was going to be, but we knew if we all went out there and ran our best that no matter what we would do well. Obviously we didn't want to be the team that upsets our streak in the DMR so we were all excited to win and contribute to our team's score. We had no doubts that we were going to do well. Throughout the season, everyone was PRing and everyone worked really hard in practice. We all worked with each other, practicing our hand offs, and supported each other so we knew we were going to go out there and do well."
On being the only returner from the 2013 national champion DMR ... "I don't think this year is going to be the same at last year -- every track meet is different -- you're in different lanes, on a different track, with a different atmosphere. I've told the rest of the girls on the relay how exciting it is with everyone cheering and how important this is. For me, it helps that I've been there before. I'll still be nervous, but not as nervous as last year being a freshman. I feel good knowing that I'll be returning with our relay and that helps my nervousness."
On the difference between an open 400m and the 400m leg of the DMR ... "With my open 400, obviously it's a single event, so cutting in is a lot different -- going out there and trying to get in a good position. But with the relay, you have to rely on your team to help you out. I want Jaimie (Phelan) to get me in a good position and then I have to get in a good position for Danielle (Pfeifer). I love running the 400 as part of the relay because it's a different speed, getting the baton from the first leg and then having to hand it off. I like the relay better because we can all go out and warm up together and we're all on the line together. It's nice to have your teammates right there with you cheering you on and to be able to cheer for them while they're running. It gets you hyped up before you get the baton so you can run even faster knowing that your teammates are all counting on each other."
On the chemistry of this year's DMR with three new members ... "We found that we were all going to be running together at the SPIRE meet two weeks before Big Tens. During practices we were talking about how excited we were to be running together, stretching together, making jokes and talking about what our strategy would be. We all love each other, help each other stretch, and talk to each other before races to get all our nerves out. Everyone is really close, which makes our relay that much better."
On having Erin Finn, Cindy Ofili and Kiley Tobel going to NCAAs as well ... "Even though track may be considered an individual sport, having your teammates there is really comforting. Representing Michigan, it's good to have as many people as you can go along with you, especially with Kiley being one of our team captains -- it was really nice to hear that she qualified. I was so excited for Kiley and of course for Cindy and Erin as well. Having everyone there is going to make this meet so much better. No matter what the outcome is, just being there with my team and the bonding experience that we get form this trip is going to bring our team closer together and prepare us for outdoor season as well."
Previous Spotlight: Cindy Ofili