Weekly #18: U-M to Travel to Wisconsin for Big Ten Outdoors
Tofunmi Akeredolu

May 8, 2012

• Interviews: Allison Liske | Kiley Tobel | Emily Pendleton

Fri-Sun., May 11-13 -- at Big Ten Outdoor Championships (Madison, Wis.), Noon/9:30 a.m./11 a.m. CDT [ Championship Central | Ticket Information | Live Results ]

The University of Michigan women's track and field team will begin its postseason run at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships from Friday-Sunday (May 11-13) at the University of Wisconsin's McClimon Complex. Competition will begin on Friday at noon (CDT) and resume again on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. (CDT) and on Sunday at 11 a.m. (CDT).


Athletes in Action this Weekend -- Rebecca Addison, Tofunmi Akeredolu, Meg Bellino, Erin Busbee, Charlotte Cahill, Dana Carey, Michaela Carnegie, Joanna Fleming, Brook Handler, Lindsey Hilton, Shelby Hines, Brianna Jenkins, Alex Leptich, Allison Liske, Chinyere Onimo, Anna Pasternak, Mary Grace Pellegrini, Emily Pendleton, Erin Pendleton, Kari Prena, Amber Smith, Jillian Smith, Kiley Tobel, Ada Unachukwu, Victoria Wesley and Brittani Williams.

Setting the Scene -- Wisconsin's McClimon Complex features a 400-meter, eight-lane track, which is made of a polyurethane "Martin 2000" surface. The track surrounds a spacious field events area, which doubles as a soccer field. The field features a steeplechase water jump, six jump pits, three discus circles, four shot put throwing circles, two pits each for the high jump and pole vault, and two javelin throwing runways.

Ohio State is the only Big Ten school currently ranked in the USTFCCCA Division I top 25 poll, coming in at No. 24.

Michigan in the Big Ten -- The Wolverines finished in 10th place at the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, tallying 49 points. Junior Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven) led U-M, winning the 1,500-meter title in a time of 4:26.59. Addison has already topped that time by nearly 10 seconds this season (4:17.16). Junior/sophomore Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) followed behind Addison at last year's conference meet, finishing third in 4:26.59.

Fifth-year senior Emily Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore) and junior Erin Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore) are the only other current Wolverines that have won a Big Ten title for Michigan. Emily won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009 and Erin took the reins, winning the crown in 2010.

Michigan has won seven Big Ten titles in program history with the last coming in 2007. The Maize and Blue tied Illinois for the conference crown with 129 points that year. Since Michigan began competing in the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in 1978, the Wolverines have won 85 individual event titles.

At the Top of the Conference -- Heading into the championship weekend, Michigan has five athletes ranked in the top three in the Big Ten in their respective events. Junior/sophomore Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) owns the only first-place ranking in the 1,500-meter run (4:13.94), while junior Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven) ranks third in the 1,500 (4:17.16). In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, sophomore Alex Leptich (Ann Arbor, Mich./Saline) is ranked second (10:11.85). In the field, junior/sophomore Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) holds onto the No. 2 spot in the pole vault (4.17 meters, 13-8.25), while fifth-year senior Emily Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore) is ranked third in the discus (54.66 meters, 179-4).

Championships on BTN -- The Big Ten Outdoor Championships will be aired on the Big Ten Network on May 20 starting at noon.

Rewriting the Record Book -- Junior/sophomore Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) cleared a lifetime-best height of 4.17 meters (13-8.25) in the pole vault at the Len Paddock Invitational on Friday (May 4) to improve upon her own outdoor school record. She originally broke the program record at the Payton Jordan Invitational on April 29 with a vault of 4.16 meters (13-7.75). Tobel now owns the indoor and outdoor pole vault records at Michigan after she recorded a mark of 4.23m (13-10.50) at the Silverston Invitational on Feb. 18.

Steeplechase Success -- Sophomore Alex Leptich (Ann Arbor, Mich./Saline), who won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Stanford Invitational on April 6, competed in the event at the Payton Jordan Invitational (April 29) along with freshman Anna Pasternak (Brighton, Mich./Hartland). Leptich (10:21.45) finished 16th in section two, while Pasternak (11:02.82) took 12th in section three. Pasternak and fellow freshman Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester) made their 3,000-meter steeplechase debuts at the Sea Ray Relays on April 13. Handler and Pasternak finished in third and fifth place, respectively, in times of 10:51.76 and 11:02.49.

Leptich's steeplechase win at the Stanford Invitational marked her season debut. Sophomore Megan Weschler (Wyandotte, Mich./Roosevelt) also made her first steeplechase appearance of the season at Stanford. Leptich won section two of the event with a 42-second personal record of 10:11.85, while Weschler took 15th in a personal-best time of 10:38.17. As freshmen, Leptich and Weschler finished 15th and 23rd, respectively, in the steeple at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. In the summer of 2011, Leptich won her second straight steeplechase crown at the 2011 Pan American Junior Championships. Michigan's only Big Ten champion in the steeple was Anna Willard in 2007.

Leptich, Pasternak and Handler will each compete in the steeple at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

Multi-Madness -- Sophomore Erin Busbee (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) is Michigan's primary multi-event competitor. Busbee completed her first heptathlon of the season at the Sea Ray Relays, held April 11-12, finishing third with 4,947 points. She took first place in four of the seven events (long jump, javelin, high jump and shot put) and recorded five personal-best marks. In preparation for the Big Ten Championships (May 11-13), Busbee competed in three events at the Len Paddock Invitational -- the 100-meter hurdles, high jump and shot put. She finished third in the 100-meter hurdles (14.30), fourth in the shot put (11.83m, 38-9.75) and fifth in the high jump (1.65m, 5-5), recording personal-best marks in each event. Busbee will represent Michigan in the heptathlon at the Big Ten Championships.

Junior/sophomore multi-event athlete Sara Nitz (Zeeland, Mich./Zeeland East) returned to the track for the first time since 2011 at the Al Owens Classic on April 21. After competing in just two meets during the 2011 outdoor season, an injury forced her to miss the remainder of the season. Nitz competed in the high jump at the Len Paddock Invitational, clearing a height of 1.55 meters (5-1), matching her mark from the Al Owens Classic. During her freshman campaign in 2010, Nitz placed 11th in the heptathlon at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. She also participated in the heptathlon at the 2010 Hillsdale Relays.

Among The Big Ten's Best
Several Michigan track and field athletes rank among the top 10 in the Big Ten heading into the conference meet.

Name Event Time/Mark Rank
Jillian Smith (R-So.) 800m Run 2:06.89 4
Rebecca Addison (Jr.) 800m Run 2:06.96 5
Rebecca Addison (Jr.) 1,500m Run 4:13.94 1
Jillian Smith (R-So.) 1,500m Run 4:17.16 3
Mary Grace Pellegrini (R-Jr.) 10,000m Run 34:23.25 4
Amber Smith (So.) 100m Hurdles 13.74 8
Alex Leptich (So.) 3,000m Steeple 10:11.85 2
Ada Unachukwu, Amber Smith, Shelby Hines, Charlotte Cahill 4x100m Relay 46.43 7
Amber Smith, Charlotte Cahill, Brittani Williams, Jillian Smith 4x400m Relay 3:43.68 9
Kiley Tobel (R-So.) Pole Vault 13-8.25 ft. 2
Victoria Wesley (Fr.) Pole Vault 12-8.25 ft. 9
Ada Unachukwu (Jr.) Triple Jump 41-4.25 ft. 7
Allison Liske (R-Sr.) Shot Put 51-10 ft. 8
Emily Pendleton (R-Sr.) Shot Put 51-4.25 ft. 9
Emily Pendleton (R-Sr.) Discus 179-4 ft. 3
Erin Pendleton (Jr.) Discus 178-2 ft. 4
Emily Pendleton (R-Sr.) Hammer 186-11 ft. 9
Erin Busbee (So.) Heptathlon 4,947 points 7

Sensational Sisters -- The dynamic duo of sisters Emily Pendleton and Erin Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore) have dominated the Big Ten discus scene over the last three years. Emily won the Big Ten title in 2008 and 2009 and Erin took the crown in 2010. After winning the title in 2010, Erin was named Big Ten Outdoor Freshman of the Year. Erin finished fourth at last year's conference meet and went on to finish 21st the NCAA Championships, while Emily redshirted the 2011 indoor and outdoor seasons.

In their three throwing events, the pair currently owns four Big Ten top-10 rankings. Emily and Erin rank third and fourth in the discus, respectively, while Emily also ranks ninth in the hammer and shot put.

Emily has won two event titles this season, including the shot put at the USC Invitational and the discus at the Len Paddock Invitational. Erin took the hammer throw crown at the North Florida Spring Invitational and took first in the discus at the Grand Valley State Al Owens Classic.

Best of the Best -- Six Michigan athletes rank among the top 25 in the nation in their respective events. Sophomore Alex Leptich (Ann Arbor, Mich./Saline) ranks 18th in the country in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:11.85. Sisters fifth-year senior Emily Pendleton and junior Erin Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore) rank 14th and 17th, respectively, in the discus with throws of 54.66 meters (179-4) and 54.30 meters (178-2). Junior/sophomore Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) and junior Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven) rank sixth and 19th in the 1,500-meter run with times of 4:13.94 and 4:17.16, respectively. Junior/sophomore Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) set a new personal record in the pole vault, topping her own school record with a mark of 4.17 meters (13-8.25), which ranks 22nd in the nation.

Last Time on the Track: Len Paddock Invitational -- Michigan hosted its only home meet of the outdoor season with the Len Paddock Invitational May 3-4. Junior/sophomore Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) highlighted the field events, clearing a personal-best height of 4.17 meters (13-8.25) to improve her school record in the pole vault and finish second. In the throwing events, fifth-year senior Allison Liske (Zeeland, Mich./Zeeland East) won the shot put with a mark of 14.22 meters (46-8), while fifth-year senior Emily Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore) won the discus with a throw of 52.61 meters (172-7). On the track, junior Charlotte Cahill (Farmington Hills, Mich./North Farmington) won the 100-meter dash in a time of 12.15, while freshman Chinyere Onimo (Ypsilanti, Mich./Huron) won her collegiate debut in the 400-meter dash, stopping the clock at 56.97. Michigan also competed in the 4x100-meter relay for the first time this season, clocking the seventh-fastest time in the Big Ten this season at 46.43. [ MGoBlue Recaps: Day One | Day Two :: Michigan Daily ]

Personal Improvement -- At the Len Paddock Invitational last weekend, 10 Michigan athletes recorded new personal records in 14 events. After 10 meets this outdoor season, 30 Wolverines have set new PRs in at least one event, with seven improving in at least two events. During the 2012 indoor season, 42 student-athletes recorded new PRs.

In the Rankings -- Michigan remained No. 5 in the sixth Great Lakes Region poll released Tuesday (May 8) by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). U-M is one of six Big Ten schools in the Great Lakes Region, including No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 4 Michigan State, No. 6 Indiana, and No. 12 Purdue.

Fresh Faces -- Michigan added 17 new student-athletes to the roster this season -- 17 freshmen and one transfer. Of those 18, nine competed for the Wolverines during the indoor track and field season. Shannon Osika (Waterford, Mich./Mott) highlighted the group of newcomers as the only freshman in the country to advance to the finals of the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She earned All-America second team honors after placing ninth.

Seven Wolverine freshmen made their collegiate outdoor debuts in the first three meets of the season. Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester) was the most-recent Wolverine to make her first career outdoor appearance, running the 1,500-meter at the Yellow Jacket Invitational on March 31. Two redshirt freshmen have also made their collegiate outdoor debuts -- Erica Crane (Dearborn, Mich./Divine Child) and Ariel Dempsey (Jenison, Mich./Jenison).

First Time in Uniform -- Five Wolverines made their outdoor season debuts at the Len Paddock Invitational on May 4. Senior/junior Nicole Prince (Okemos, Mich./Okemos) competed in the 800-meter run. In the 1,500-meter run, junior/sophomore Courtney Clancy (Richland, Mich./Gull Lake) made her outdoor season debut, while sophomore/freshman Megan Pearson (Paw Paw, Mich./Paw Paw) appeared in her first collegiate outdoor meet. Multi-event athletes junior/sophomore Liz Sherzer (Battle Creek, Mich./St. Philip Catholic) and senior/junior Asia Body (Sterling Heights, Mich./Paul K. Cousino) each made their outdoor season debut, competing in the 200-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles, long jump, shot put and javelin.

Same Name -- The Wolverines have three sets of sisters on the 2012 team in addition to four other sets of same last names. Sisters Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven) and Laura Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven) both compete in distance events; Emily Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore), and Erin Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore), both throw; and Chloe Prince (Okemos, Mich./Okemos) and Nicole Prince (Okemos, Mich./Okemos) both run mid-distance for the Wolverines. In addition, Alicia Patterson (DeWitt, Mich./DeWitt) and Kaitlyn Patterson (Cadillac, Mich./Cadillac), Amber Smith (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) and Jillian Smith (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional), Chelsey Miller (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) and Samantha Miller (Edina, Minn./Edina), and Alexandria Williams (Wallingford, Pa./Strath Haven) and Brittani Williams (Detroit, Mich./Jackson) all share last names but are not related.

Leaders of the Pack -- Fifth-year senior Emily Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore), senior Alexandria Williams (Wallingford, Pa./Strath Haven) and junior Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven) will continue to serve as team captains for the 2012 outdoor season. Pendleton repeats as captain for the second season, having captained the Wolverines in 2010, while Williams and Addison were selected to represent the Maize and Blue for the first time.

2011 Outdoor Rewind -- Michigan returns one Big Ten outdoor champion and two athletes who competed in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2011. Junior Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich./Grand Haven) won her first Big Ten outdoor title in the 1,500-meter run at last year's conference championships. The Wolverines were represented by junior Erin Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio/Woodmore) in the discus and junior/sophomore Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) in the pole vault at the national meet. Both athletes earned All-America honorable mention honors in their respective events.

2012 NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING -- For the third consecutive season, the East and West Preliminary Championship competition 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 held at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Big Ten Championships will provide the last opportunity for the Wolverines to improve their marks before the East Preliminary Round. The regional fields will be announced on May 17.

Michigan women's track and field is on Facebook. Connect with the program, alumni and fans by clicking the "Like" button at facebook.com/michiganwomenstrack. Also, be sure to follow the team on Twitter (@umichtrack) for up-to-the-minute news and information throughout the season and beyond.

Throughout the championships, the hastag #B1GTF will be used on Twitter to help fans follow the action.

Thu-Sat., May 24-26 -- at NCAA East Preliminary Round (Jacksonville, Fla.), 11 a.m.