U of M Women - Finn, DMR Earn All-America Honors at NCAA Indoors
Provided by U of M
What You Need to Know
» Erin Finn ran the fastest-ever runner-up time in meet history (15:23.16) to shatter her own program record and hit the USATF Olympic qualifying standard at 5,000 meters (15:25).
» Michigan's distance medley relay (DMR) squad of Jaimie Phelan (1,200 meters), Maya Long (400 meters), Danielle Pfeifer (800 meters) and Shannon Osika (1,600 meters) placed fourth, giving U-M All-Americans in the event in 13 consecutive seasons dating to 2004.
» Cindy Ofili (60 meter hurdles) qualified for Saturday finals, set for 5:35 p.m. EST and watchable on ESPN3, which will begin tomorrow at 4:55 p.m. EST.
• Complete Results PDF
Site: Birmingham, Ala. (Birmingham Crossplex)
Event: NCAA Indoor Championships (Day 1)
U-M Team Result: 4th Place (13 points) after Day 1
Next U-M Event: Saturday, March 12 -- at NCAA Championships - Day 2 (Birmingham, Ala.), 5:35 p.m.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan women's track and field team began the NCAA Indoor Championships weekend totaled 13 points on the strength of a runner-up finish in the 5K from distance star Erin Finn and a fourth-place finish from the distance medley relay. The Wolverines sit in fourth place through Friday (March 11) action, with the opportunity to score in the 60-meter hurdles (Ofili) and 3,000-meter race (Finn) tomorrow (Saturday, March 12) at Birmingham Crossplex.
Finn earned her first career All-America honors during the indoor season and the third first-team accolade of her career on the track, not including two such honors in cross country. In addition, U-M secured a top-seven finish in the DMR for the 12th time in its 16 NCAA appearances in the event, dating back to 1998.
Despite the distance of the 5K, it was truly a two-woman race between Finn and Notre Dame's Molly Seidel, who along with her teammate Anna Rohrer jumped out at the gun, with Finn and Boise State's Allie Ostrander hot on their heels.
After a physical first several laps, the pace settled in -- and it was a quick one at that. The lead pair stretched a small cushion into a lead of several meters, before Seidel made her move, turning that gap into a much larger one.
Finn stayed tight behind Seidel and went with her when she pushed the pace. Not long after, Ostrander, among the event favorites, dropped out of the race battling a lingering injury, turning the battle into a true one-on-one affair between Finn and Seidel.
The pace remained worthy of a championship battle, and the duo came through 3,200 meters around 9:49. Not long after, shortly after the 4,000-meter mark, Seidel broke away for good. Finn came in at 15:23.16, more than 14 seconds faster than her previous best indoor time set at the Big Ten Championships and more than two seconds faster than her previous best during the outdoor season.
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To illustrate just how impressive, Finn's PR finish ranks No. 10 all-time in NCAA history, No. 3 in NCAA Indoor Championship history and sets a new standard for the fastest runner-up finish in meet history. On top of all of that, it fits comfortably under the 15:25.00 Olympic team trials qualifying standard set by the USATF for this upcoming summer.
After the race, Finn was excited to have finally topped her outdoor 5,000-meter record of 15:26.
"I've been wanting to better that time for awhile now and I just hadn't been in the right race," said Finn.
"The other exciting thing about doing this today is that I know I can run faster in the outdoor season," she added.
In terms of strategy, Finn turned played her one-on-one battle with Seidel into an advantage, letting the Notre Dame standout carry her to a lifetime best.
"I just tried to sit on Molly and the top group and ride the train," said Finn, "I know she is a phenomenal competitor and runner, so I just tried to key off what she did. I held on as long as I could and set a new PB, and hopefully I can get another tomorrow."
Associate Head Coach Mike McGuire was quick to credit Finn after her outstanding performance.
"Erin has had a tremendous season," he said.
"She got a lot of things done, with a huge school record and got her standard for the Olympic Trails outdoor. Erin just competes and continues to develop her competitive instincts. I'm really, really proud of her."
The Maize and Blue has produced All-Americans in the DMR each year since 2004, continuing a 13-year streak on Friday with a fourth-place finish in 10:59.05.
"We're proud of the fact that they embraced the tradition of the event and we are proud of the effort they displayed," said McGuire of his relay group's performance.
"That was an exciting race," he added. "Kudos to Shannon because she was a bit off-form in the mile but she bounced back and it says a lot about her resiliency and her accountability to her teammates. She really rallied with an outstanding anchor leg and I though the three athletes in front of her all did a great job."
The squad of Jaimie Phelan (1,200 meters), Maya Long (400 meters), Danielle Pfeifer (800 meters) and Shannon Osika (1,600 meters) is a fearsome foursome, to be sure. Together, these three seniors and one junior/sophomore (Phelan) have totaled 11 first team All-America honors, led by four from Long.
Phelan got things going with a leg of 3:23.8, handing off to Long with top-five positioning. Long then cranked out a 54.2-second leg, as each of the 400 runners picked up the pace substantially and ensured Pfeifer would get the baton in an equally good position.
During the 800 leg, things slowed down a bit but not by much. Pfeifer timed a steady 2:06.4 before handing off to Osika, who was doubling off her mile prelims race from earlier in the afternoon. She came through strong, especially down the home stretch, during which she passed the 1,600 runner from Arkansas to pick up another valuable point for the Maize and Blue and split 4:34.6 overall.
From left: Jaimie Phelan, Danielle Pfeifer, Maya Long, Shannon Osika
Ofili snagged the final qualifying spot in the 60-meter hurdles, advancing to tomorrow's final on time. She finished fifth in the second heat, crossing in 8.10 despite an off start that saw her take an awkward step just before the first hurdle. In fact, in such a short race with a slim margin for error, Ofili's advancing despite the misstep illustrates her impressive ability.
She will re-focus and prepare herself for Saturday's race and is eager to seize the opportunity to secure her second career indoor All-America honor.
Osika began her weekend running in the mile and clocked 4:42.59 running in heat two of the semifinals. She finished seventh in her heat and was not able to advance to Saturday's final but that did not deter her from coming through strong for her teammates and capping off her indoor career at Michigan with another All-America honor.
"I have no regrets on deciding to double," said Osika.
"It was kind of scary to have felt the way I felt during the mile prelims, but I wasn't moping around. I was motivated and excited to come back and finish the night off strong for my teammates. I think that kept me going and that gave me the strength to pull through tonight."
Day-two action at the NCAA Championships begins tomorrow afternoon at noon CST. Fans can tune into the live video stream of the meet on ESPN3 beginning at 4:25 p.m. EST, beginning with the mile race. U-M's first event will be Ofili's 60-meter hurdle final, slated for a 5:35 p.m. EST gun.
COLLEGIATE PERSONAL BESTS
Erin Finn -- 15:23.16^
^ School Record (Indoor OR Outdoor seasons)
Communications Contact: Chad Shepard