U-M to Open Outdoor Season at Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Challenge

March 22, 2017

» The Wolverines will team with Big Ten rivals Indiana, Nebraska and Penn State to take on the Pac-12 quartet of Arizona State, Arizona, California and UCLA.
» Jade Harrison will make her outdoor debut after an All-America, record-breaking indoor campaign.
» Returning Big Ten Outdoor scorers Claire Kieffer-Wright, Aaron Howell and Claire Borchers will open up their outdoor seasons.
» Thirteen Wolverines total will be making their Michigan outdoor debuts.

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• Heat Sheets: Friday PDF | Saturday PDF

Fri-Sat., March 24-25 -- at Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Challenge (Tempe, Ariz.), 1/2:30 p.m. MST
Meet Information | Live Results

The road to defending its co-Big Ten Outdoor Championships team title begins this weekend for the No. 21-ranked University of Michigan women's track and field team, which opens up its 2017 spring season at Arizona State for the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Challenge on Friday and Saturday (March 24-25).

Nearly 30 Wolverines will don the Maize and Blue -- including a school-record holder and several returning Big Ten scorers but also 13 making their U-M outdoor debuts -- as they join forces with Indiana, Nebraska and Penn State to battle the Pac-12 contingent of Arizona State, Arizona, California and UCLA.

Though the meet will also be scored on a by-team basis, the main objective of the meet is the inter-conference competition between the Big Ten and the Pac-12, two of the preeminent leagues in college track and field. Points scored by each team will be pooled together with those scored by their conference compatriots; the conference with the most points at the end of the night on Saturday is determined the winner.

Points are awarded to each of the top-eight finishers in the event, with the winner garnering 10 for his team and conference. The order of points for each place is 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Friday features two outdoor-only events with the hammer throw expected to start around 1 p.m. MST (4 p.m. ET), followed by the javelin at approximately 6:20 p.m. MST. The evening wraps up with the 5,000 meters at 7:30 p.m. MST.

Saturday's action for the women in the field begins with the women's discus at 2:30 p.m. MST. Track events begin at 6:20 p.m. MST with the 100-meter hurdles and are scheduled to conclude with the 4x400 relay at 9:18 p.m. MST.

Fans will be able to follow along with live results via Finished Results and on the official Michigan Track & Field Twitter feed at @UMichTrack.

The Wolverine Competitors

• To say Jade Harrison made an impact in her first-ever indoor track and field season this past winter would be an understatement, and she looks to bring that momentum into the outdoor season. Already the school-record holder at 400 meters indoors with a first team All-America honor award as a member of the distance medley relay, Harrison will return to the outdoor oval this weekend in the 100- and 200- meter sprints. Those races are set for Saturday night at 7:41 p.m. MST and 8:35 p.m. MST, respectively.

• Harrison is just one of the many underclassmen making up the sprints corps for the Wolverines. Fellow freshman quarter-miler Julia Hall will compete in the 200 alongside Harrison and the 400 (Saturday, 7:25 p.m. MST), as will first-year heptathlete Tiana Luton. Freshman Torisa Johnson will run the 100 with Harrison, as will sophomore Jeryne Fish and junior Meghan Marias, who is also in the 200. Luton will also run the 100-meter hurdles with sophomore Lauren Rodriguez to open the Saturday track events; Rodriguez will also run the 400-meter hurdles at 8:20 p.m. MST.

• Fish and Luton will also compete in the long jump on Saturday at 5:45 p.m. MST.

• A pair of women who both finished third in their respective events at last year's Big Ten Outdoor Championships will headline the Wolverines in the field events. Both Claire Kieffer-Wright and Aaron Howell will compete in the high jump starting at 6 p.m. MST. Kieffer-Wright, also a volleyball player for U-M, was third in the high jump a year ago, while Howell was third in the heptathlon. Howell was a second team All-American in the heptathlon in 2014. They will compete alongside Katt Miner and Jada Wimberly, both making their U-M outdoor debuts.

• Six Wolverine women will contest the hammer throw Friday, headlined by freshman Courtney Jacobsen. Making her outdoor debut for the Wolverines, Jacobsen comes into this season after closing her high school career with a third-place finish at New Balance Nationals last June. She is just one among the many underclassmen in the throws, along with freshmen Christina Hallman, Meagan Malloy and Briana Nelson, sophomores Maegan McCarthy and Libby Prieskorn, and juniors Kayla Deering and Bailey Baker.

• While the distance runners who competed at NCAA Indoors two weekends ago -- national runner-up Erin Finn, Jamie Morrissey, Jaimie Phelan and Gina Sereno -- will not yet make their 2017 outdoor debuts, the Wolverines will be well represented by what was the deepest mid-distance stable in the country this past indoor season. Claire Borchers, who finished fourth in the Big Ten 3,000-meter steeplechase last year, will open up in the 1,500 meters Saturday at 7 p.m. MST alongside Sydney Badger, Rachel Coleman, Meg Darmofal and Haley Meier. Badger and Coleman are also entered in the 800 at 7:58 p.m. MST with Kate Owens.

• Sophomores Kayla Keane and Ellie Leonard will run in Friday's 5,000 and Saturday's steeplechase at 8:53 p.m. MST, respectively.

Preseason Notes & Outdoor Outlook

• The Wolverines return 49 points from the 106 scored by last year's co-Big Ten Outdoor Championships winning team, headlined by reigning 5,000- and 10,000-meter winner Gina Sereno. Jaimie Phelan returns from last year's runner-up finish at 1,500 meters, while heptathlete Aaron Howell and high jumper Claire Kieffer-Wright are both back after third-place efforts a year ago.

• Not included among that total is three-time Big Ten Outdoor champion Erin Finn, who returns after a redshirted outdoor campaign in 2016. Finn had won the previous two 10,000-meter crowns in 2014 and 2015, and the 5,000-meter title in 2014. The junior is coming off an indoor season in which she was the national runner-up at 5,000 meters and the first woman in college history to run 15:30 or faster twice at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

• The Wolverines will look to fill the void left by the graduation of several key contributors from a year ago, including Big Ten champions Devon Hoppe (800 meters), Shannon Osika (1,500 meters) and Cindy Ofili (100-meter hurdles). The trio of Hoppe, Osika and Danielle Pfiefer combined for 23 points over 800 meters a year ago.

• Leading the Wolverines' newcomers is sprinter Jade Harrison, a Sunnyville, California, native fresh off her first career indoor season. And what an indoor season it was, as she ran 52.84 to crush the U-M indoor record and was the 400-meter leg of the Wolverines' All-America fifth-place distance medley relay team at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

• An outdoor school record could be next for Harrison, whose indoor time is just .20 of a second shy of Joyce Wilson's 32-year-old program record from 1985 -- which is the oldest school record on the books for the Maize and Blue women.

• Harrison is one of 26 true freshmen on the Wolverines roster for the 2017 outdoor season, along with eight redshirt freshmen. Among those first-year, true freshmen is Julia Hall, who pairs with Harrison to form a potent long sprints corps that will power the Maize and Blue for years to come.

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Communications Contact: Kyle Terwillegar