Weekly #10: U-M Readies for Second Annual Tri-Meet with Cal, UVA
Brook Handler

April 2, 2014

• Athlete Spotlight: Brook Handler

Saturday, April 5
-- vs. California and Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.), 3 p.m.
Meet Information PDF | Live Results

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For the second straight year, the University of Michigan women's track and field team will compete against California and Virginia in a scored triangular meet on Saturday (April 5). This year's event will be hosted by the University of Virginia at Lannigan Field, starting at 3 p.m.

Laura Addison, Amanda Adwon, Erin Busbee, Erin Finn, Joanna Fleming, Corinne Florie, Abby Grinnell, Brook Handler, Jami Hill, Devon Hoppe, Aaron Howell, Meghan Lark, Alex Leptich, Maya Long, Taylor Manett, Gina McNamara, Sami Michell, Elly Mioduszewski, Jamie Morrissey, Courtney Munley, Sara Nitz, Cindy Ofili, Chinyere Onimo, Shannon Osika, Paris Parnell, Anna Pasternak, Danielle Pfeifer, Gina Sereno, Claire Tewksbury, Kiley Tobel, Emily Wee, Megan Weschler, Victoria Wesley.

• The idea behind organizing the tri-meet with Cal and Virginia was to bring together three of the top academic and athletic public institutions in the nation for a competitive, scored event.

• The tri-meet will mark Michigan's first and only head-to-head competition of the 2014 season, as U-M's indoor dual meet against Michigan State scheduled for Feb. 1 was cancelled due to weather.

Setting the Scene
• The Wolverines will look to defend their title from the inaugural meet, where they tallied 153 points to defeat California (142) and Virginia (86). Michigan won seven events, including 1-2 performances in four of those events to help win the tri-meet. Four Wolverines who won events last year will return to compete in this year's tri-meet, including Cindy Ofili (100-meter hurdles), Shannon Osika (3,000m run), Brook Handler (3,000m steeplechase) and Kiley Tobel (pole vault).

Cal and Virginia each return three event winners from a year ago. The Bears return Malaina Payton in the long jump, Chioma Amaechi in the shot put and Shelby Ashe in the hammer throw. The Cavaliers will be represented by past winners Jordan Lavender in the 200-meter dash, Vanessa Fabrizio in the 800-meter run and Abbey Karin in the javelin. Cal swept the relays a year ago, winning the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays.

Outdoor Advantages
• Several different events are contested during the outdoor season that were not during the indoor season. The 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles will be replaced by the 100-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles; the mile run will be replaced by the 1,500-meter run; and the weight throw will be 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, will also be 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).

Michigan will benefit from several of the different outdoor events added to the outdoor lineup:

Freshman Aaron Howell (Farmington Hills, Mich./Farmington), who finished fifth in the pentathlon in her Big Ten Indoor Championship debut, will compete as U-M's only heptathlete this season. She will participate in the high jump, triple jump and javelin in the tri-meet to continue preparing for the full heptathlon.

Michigan has a strong contingent of runners in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, including senior/junior Alex Leptich (Ann Arbor, Mich./Saline), senior Megan Weschler (Wyandotte, Mich./Roosevelt) and junior Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester), who went 7-8-9 at last year's Big Ten Outdoor Championships. Leptich earned All-Big Ten second team honors in 2012 after finishing runner up in the steeplechase. Junior Anna Pasternak (Brighton, Mich./Hartland), who steepled at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships as a freshman, will return in the steeple for U-M after redshirting the 2013 outdoor season.

Senior/junior Taylor Pogue (Goodrich, Mich./Goodrich), who missed the majority of the 2013 cross country and 2014 indoor seasons due to injury, returned to compete in two indoor meets and will be in full swing for the outdoor season. She finished sixth in the 10,000-meter run at the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and also advanced to the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds, where she placed 28th.

Senior/junior thrower Elly Mioduszewski (Dexter, Mich./Dexter) is in her second outdoor season in a Maize and Blue uniform after competing for Michigan's club softball team during her first three years at U-M. In her Big Ten Outdoor Championship debut in 2013, Mioduszewski was one spot shy of scoring in the javelin, finishing ninth overall. She also competed in the shot put a year ago and has added discus and hammer throw to her list of events this outdoor season.

Michigan's 4x100-meter relay finished third at the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Championships and also qualified to compete in the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds. Sophomore Cindy Ofili (Ypsilanti, Mich./Huron) and senior Erin Busbee (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) were each members of that relay and will lead that relay as it makes its season debut Saturday at Virginia. Individually, Busbee finished runner up in the long jump at last year's conference meet and advanced to the NCAA East Prelims. Ofili placed third in the Big Ten in the 100-meter hurdles in 2013 and also moved onto the NCAA East Prelims. During the most- recent indoor season, Busbee and Ofili each won Big Ten titles in the long jump and 60-meter hurdles, respectively. Ofili was also named Big Ten Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, as she also finished top four in the 60- and 200-meter dash.

Other Key Wolverines
• Fifth-year senior Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) is U-M's only returning All-American from a year ago and also holds the outdoor pole vault school record (4.25m, 13-11 1/4). Tobel has earned All-America second team accolades in each of the last two years, placing 10th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in both 2012 and 2013.

• After redshirting during the 2014 indoor season, junior/sophomore Shannon Osika (Waterford, Mich./Mott) returned to the track for her second outdoor season in a Maize and Blue uniform. During U-M's outdoor season opener at the Raleigh Relays (March 28-29), Osika was a member of the winning 4x800-meter relay. Last season, she finished fourth at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships and 16th at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds in the 1,500-meter run.

• Fifth-year senior Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional), who did not compete during the indoor season due to exhausted eligibility, will return to the track for her final outdoor season but will not be in action this weekend. Smith has finished in the top five in the 1,500-meter run at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in each of the three years, finishing fifth last year, second in 2012 and third in 2011. She is also a three-time NCAA East Preliminary Rounds participant. In 2012, she advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where she took 13th in the 1,500-meter run to earn All-America second team honors.

• Fifth-year senior Jami Hill (Onalaska, Wis./Onalaska) has been plagued by injury throughout her Michigan career, missing each of the last four outdoor seasons. She will make her outdoor track and field debut in a Michigan uniform this weekend at the Raleigh Relays in the 800-meter run. Hill's indoor 800-meter personal record, which was clocked in 2013 is 2:10.92.

• Freshman Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield) will look to continue her early success as a Wolverine during the outdoor season. She captured the 2013 Big Ten cross country and 2014 Big Ten indoor 5,000-meter run titles and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in both cross country and indoor track and field, as well at the conference's Athlete of the Year in cross country.

Michigan Among the Big Ten
• After one week of competition, Michigan has 12 student-athletes ranked in the top eight in the Big Ten in at least one event (the top eight score at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships). Highlighting that group are U-M's middle distance runners that own five of the top eight 1,500-meter run spots in the conference. Brook Handler clocked the top time in the Big Ten and second-fastest time in the nation last weekend at the Raleigh Relays (4:18.26). Erin Finn (4th, 4:29.04), Megan Weschler (5th, 4:29.88), Alex Leptich (7th, 4:39.99) and Danielle Pfeifer (8th, 4:32.31) also competed in the 1,500-meter run at Raleigh and are ranked in the top eight.

Returning Big Ten Scorers
• The Wolverines return 51 of its 82 total points that led them to a fourth-place finish at the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

Name Event Place Points
Erin Busbee Long Jump 2nd 8
Sara Nitz High Jump 2nd 8
Kiley Tobel Pole Vault 2nd 8
Cindy Ofili 100m Hurdles 3rd 6
Cindy Ofili, Erin Busbee 4x100m Relay 3rd 6
Shannon Osika 1,500m 4th 5
Jillian Smith 1,500m 5th 4
Taylor Pogue 10,000m 6th 3
Alex Leptich 3,000m Steeplechase 7th 2
Megan Weschler 3,000m Steeplechase 8th 1

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.

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.


The 2014 Big Ten Outdoor Championships will be hosted by Purdue University from May 16-18.

For the fifth 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 the University of North Florida from May 29-31, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Wed-Thu., April 16-17 -- at Mt. SAC Relays Multi-Event (Azusa, Calif.) 11:15 a.m./1 p.m. PDT
Thu-Sat., April 17-19 -- at Mt. SAC Relays (Walnut, Calif.), 6 p.m./10 a.m./9 a.m. PDT
Saturday, April 19 -- at LSU Alumni Gold (Baton Rouge, La.), 9 a.m. CDT

Contact: Whitney Dixon (whitdix@umich.edu)