March 19, 2013
The University of Michigan women's track and field team will compete in the Vanderbilt Black and Gold invitational on Friday and Saturday (March 22-23). Competition will begin on Friday at 4 p.m. CDT and resume on Saturday at 11 a.m. CDT at Vanderbilt Track in Nashville, Tenn.
Five student-athletes who redshirted during the indoor season will make their outdoor debut at Vanderbilt this weekend. Freshman Taylor Manett (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) will triple in the 800- and 1,500-meter run, as well as the 4x400-meter relay.
Junior/sophomore Taylor Pogue (Goodrich, Mich./Goodrich) will see her first action on the track since the 2011 indoor season, as she redshirted the 2012 outdoor and 2013 indoor seasons. She will compete in the 3,000-meter run. Pogue was a member of the women's cross country team that won the Big Ten title in the fall.
Junior Alex Leptich (Ann Arbor, Mich./Saline), who did not compete during cross country and redshirted during the indoor track season, will return to the track in the 2,000-meter steeplechase at Vanderbilt. Leptich finished runner-up in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and advanced to the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds. Sophomore Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester), who also competed in the steeplechase at the 2012 outdoor conference meet, will make her season debut in the event alongside Leptich.
Several of Michigan's middle-distance and distance runners, who did not compete last weekend in Florida, will make their outdoor debuts this weekend. After taking a week off following the NCAA Indoor Championships, senior Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven) and senior/junior Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional), who were members of the NCAA champion distance medley relay, will compete in the 3,000-meter run at Vanderbilt.
Fifth-year senior Alexandria Williams (Wallingford, Pa./Strath Haven), who sat out the indoor season due to depleted eligibility, will return to the track for her final season in Maize and Blue. She will compete in the 400-meter hurdles and 4x400-meter relay at USF, and the 800-meter run and 4x4 relay at UCF.
Several different events are contested during the outdoor season that were not during the indoor season. The 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles are replaced by the 100-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles; the mile run is replaced by the 1,500-meter run; and the weight throw is replaced with the hammer throw. The 400-meter hurdles, 3,000-meter steeplechase, 10,000-meter run, javelin and discus, as well as the 4x100-meter relay, are also added to the list of events. The multi-event competition also increases from five events to seven events with the heptathlon (100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, javelin, long jump and 800-meter run).
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.IN THE SPOTLIGHT
On competing in her first meet in more than a year ... "I had only raced the 800 a couple times indoor, and this was the first time I've run the 400 hurdles in almost two years -- the last time I ran it I was a junior. I was really unsure because we haven't had the opportunity to practice that much outside. There was a lot of emotion because after my injury, it was mentally and physically more challenging that anything I had experienced. Overall it was really exciting to get back at it and do the event that I really love. It was great to be back in the loop with my teammates, having fun and joking around like we always do when we travel. There were definitely a little bit of nerves to get over at the beginning and maybe a little bit of hesitance, but now it feels really good to have that under my belt so that I can approach the next 400 hurdles race with a little bit of confidence and know it's something I can do. Hopefully I'm able to get back to where I was before I got injured."
On feeding off the success the team had during indoor season ... "It was a lot of fun to come to practice and see everybody working hard and working towards achieving a common goal and do as well as we did, especially because in some previous years we hadn't done that well. All of the energy that you see in the competitions, that was all at practice too, so it was special to be a part of that. I tried to be as supportive as I could because I had never been in that position before. It was really exciting and I think everyone is trying to harness all of that energy and excitement and hard work from indoor and cross country and bring it all together for outdoor."
On the improvement of the sprint and hurdle group ... "As far as the hurdles, it's really exciting to watch Cindy (Ofili) and Amber (Smith) and Erin (Busbee) go out there and have really high-energy fast-paced workouts. A lot of times, since I'm not a short hurdler, I'm watching and maybe I'll jump in and do drills, but it's exciting to feed off each other. The sprint group is great -- we have some older girls and some younger people that are all performing well and are stepping up. It's exciting to see people doing well and I think we're all really pulling each other along in our workouts. It's a lot of fun to have people performing well -- it pushes everyone to get better because of it."
On the team's focus for outdoor season ... "I think that the girls saw how they did during indoor, and I think they did amazing. I know that people would have liked to do better, so for outdoor, I think we have those same goals going into the championships. We'd like to send as many people to regionals as we can, and being a contender at the conference meet is one of the most important things. Everyone is stepping up the plate and we all know that it's a work in progress so we're working toward being a contender when it comes to Big Tens and then qualifying as many people as we can for regionals."
On strengths in additional events added during outdoor ... "The discus, the steeple and the 400 hurdles are all events I think we can definitely use to our advantage in terms of the championships. We have people in the steeple, myself in the 400 hurdles and a couple long distances girl coming back that didn't compete indoors, like Alex Leptich and Taylor Pogue. That's exciting because we'll add some scorers that we didn't have indoors. We also have Erin Pendleton in the discus, which is her strongest event. We lose a couple events like the DMR, but I think we'll be able to make up for that by doing well in some of the events that weren't contested indoors."
2013 NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING - For the fourth consecutive season, the NCAA East and West Preliminary Rounds will be utilized to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Using a descending order list, the top-48 athletes in each event will participate in two rounds (first round and quarterfinals) during the Preliminary Round. Twelve competitors from each individual event and 12 teams from each relay event will advance from each Preliminary Championship competition to the NCAA Championships. There are no qualifying marks used during the outdoor season. This year's NCAA East Preliminary Round will be hosted by North Carolina A&T State University from May 23-25, in Greensboro, N.C.
A LOOK AHEAD
Fri-Sat., March 29-30 -- at Raleigh Relays (Raleigh, N.C.), 9:45 a.m./10 a.m.
Saturday, April 6 -- vs. California and Virginia Tri-Meet (Berkley, Calif.)