Weekly #15: Wolverine Women to Vie for Big Ten Title at Purdue

Weekly #15: Wolverine Women to Vie for Big Ten Title at Purdue

Provided by U of M

The 24th-ranked University of Michigan women's track and field team will begin the championship portion of it season as the Wolverines compete at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, which are set for Friday-Sunday, May 16-18, at Purdue's Rankin Track and Field. Competition will start on Friday at 11 a.m. and resume on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and on Sunday at 11 a.m.

Championships on BTN -- The Big Ten Outdoor Championships will be aired on the Big Ten Network on Sunday, May 25, at 6 p.m.


Laura Addison, Amanda Adwon, Erin Busbee, Dana Carey, Erin Finn, Joanna Fleming, Corinne Florie, Abby Grinnell, Brook Handler, 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, Anna Pasternak, Danielle Pfeifer, Claire Tewksbury, Kiley Tobel, Emily Wee, Megan Weschler, Victoria Wesley


• Michigan moved into the USTFCCCA Division I National Team Top 25 Rankings for the first time since 2009, on April 29, coming in at No. 20, and is currently ranked No. 24. U-M's 2009 team was ranked 11th in the final poll and finished seventh at the NCAA Outdoor Championships -- the second-highest finish in program history.

In addition to Michigan, Penn State (No. 19) and Nebraska (No. 25) are also ranked in the top 25.

• With the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten Conference in 2011, the championship meet includes 11 teams as Northwestern does not have a track and field program.

• Michigan has won seven Big Ten outdoor titles, with the most recent 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 87 individual-event titles.

• Penn State captured the 2013 Big Ten outdoor title with 133 points. The Wolverines finished fourth a year ago with 82 points, which was s three-spot improvement from 2012.

• Sophomore Cindy Ofili (Ypsilanti, Mich./Huron) produced her best outdoor performance of her career last weekend at the UC Irvine Steve Scott Invitational, as she recorded three personal-best times and won a pair of events. She ran personal-best times in the 100-meter dash (11.59), 200-meter dash (23.62) and 100-meter hurdles (13.07), en route to winning the hurdles and 200-meter dash. She also finished as the top collegiate runner and second overall in the 100-meter dash. She currently ranks first in the Big Ten 13th in the NCAA in the 100-meter hurdles, as well as third in the conference in the 100-meter dash and fifth in the 200-meter dash.

• Freshman Erin Finn improved upon her own school record in the 5,000-meter run with more than a 15-second personal record of 15:26.08, in the fastest heat at the Payton Jordan Invitational (May 4). Finn finished 13th overall and second among collegians with the third-best time recorded in the NCAA this season.

Outdoor Advantages

• Several different events are contested during the outdoor championships that were not during the indoor season, providing additional scoring opportunities for U-M. The 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles is 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).

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


Freshman Aaron Howell (Farmington Hills, Mich./Farmington), who finished fifth in the pentathlon in her Big Ten Indoor Championship debut, will compete in her first outdoor conference meet in the heptathlon. She made her collegiate debut in the heptathlon at the California Invitational Heptathlon (April 16-17), winning the Invite A section with 5,416 points, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten. She won the javelin and shot put and cleared a height of 1.75 meters (5-8.75) in the high jump, which ranks fourth overall in the conference.

3,000-meter Steeplechase

Michigan has a strong duo in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, including senior/junior Alex Leptich (Ann Arbor, Mich./Saline) and senior Megan Weschler (Wyandotte, Mich./Roosevelt), who went 7-8 at last year's Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

Leptich was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week (April 9, 2014) after winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase in her season debut at the tri-meet against Virginia and Cal (April 5). Her career-best time of 10:04.86 is the second-fastest 3,000-meter steeplechase time ever run in a collegiate dual/tri/quad meet, and currently ranks second in the Big Ten and 10th in the NCAA. Weschler's steeple time of 10:11.56 from the tri-meet ranks fifth in the Big Ten and 19th in the country. Leptich earned All-Big Ten second team honors in 2012 after finishing runner-up in the steeplechase.

10,000-meter Run

Junior Anna Pasternak (Brighton, Mich./Hartland) made her collegiate debut in the 10,000-meter run at the Mt. SAC Relays (April 17), where she clocked a time of 35:31.09, which ranks ninth in the Big Ten.

4x100-meter Relay

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) are the only returning members of that relay.

Other Key Wolverines

• Junior Brook Handler (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester), who finished ninth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, has been focusing on the 1,500-meter run this outdoor season. She currently ranks first in the Big Ten and eighth in the nation with her personal-best time of 4:15.82, which she clocked at the Payton Jordan Invitational (May 4). She also ran the second-fastest 5,000-meter time in the Big Ten at the Mt. SAC Relays (16:04.99). Handler was named Big Ten Athlete of the Week on April 2 after opening the season running 4:18.28 at Raleigh Relays.

• Freshman Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield) is continuing her early success as a Wolverine during the outdoor season. She improved her own school record in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 15:26.08, at the Payton Jordan Invitational (May 4). She remains the Big Ten's leader in the 5,000m run and also ranks third in the nation. Finn 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.

• Fifth-year senior Kiley Tobel (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Western) is U-M's only returning outdoor All-American from a year ago and also holds the outdoor pole vault school record (4.25m, 13-11 1/4). She currently owns a season-best mark of 4.10 meters (13-5.25), which ranks seventh in the Big Ten and 20th in the NCAA East Region. At last year's outdoor conference meet, she finished runner-up to earn All-Big Ten second team honors. 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 Maize and Blue. Her season-best 1,500-meter time of 4:19.20, which she ran at the Beach Invitational (April 19), ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 28th in the NCAA this season. 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. Osika also owns the Big Ten's fifth-best 5,000m time this season at 16:09.05.

• Sophomore Cindy Ofili (Ypsilanti, Mich./Huron) recorded new personal-best times in the 100-meter dash (11.59), 200-meter dash (23.62) and 100-meter hurdles (13.07) at the UC Irvine Steve Scott Invitational (May 2-3). Her hurdle time ranks first in the Big Ten and 14th in the NCAA, while her 100- and 200-meter dash times rank third and fifth in the conference, respectively. Ofili placed third in the Big Ten in the 100-meter hurdles in 2013, in 13.30, and also moved onto the NCAA East Prelims, where she finished 14th. During the most recent indoor season, Ofili won the Big Ten title in the 60-meter hurdles, en route to being named Big Ten Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, as she also finished top four in the 60- and 200-meter dash.

• Senior Erin Busbee (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood), the 2014 indoor Big Ten champion in the long jump, currently ranks 10th in the long jump in the conference with a mark of 6.03 meters (19-9.5). She also ranks eighth in the conference in the 100-meter hurdles with a career-best time of 13.66, which she ran at the LSU Alumni Gold (April 18). Busbee finished runner-up in the long jump at last year's outdoor conference meet, earning All-Big Ten second team honors, and advanced to the NCAA East Prelims.

• Sophomore Danielle Pfeifer (Cincinnati, Ohio/McAuley) currently ranks second in the Big Ten in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:06.68, which she ran at the Payton Jordan Invitational (May 4). During the 2014 indoor season, she was a member of U-M's distance medley relay that won the Big Ten title and finished fifth at the NCAA Championships.

Michigan Among the Big Ten

• Heading into the Big Ten Championships, Michigan has 11 student-athletes, as well as its 4x400-meter relay, ranked in the top eight in the Big Ten in at least one event (the top eight score at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships).

Name Event Time/Mark Rank

Cindy Ofili 100m 11.59 3rd

Cindy Ofili 200m 23.62 5th

Danielle Pfeifer 800m 2:06.68 2nd

Devon Hoppe 800m 2:07.32 7th

Brook Handler 1,500m 4:15.82 1st

Shannon Osika 1,500m 4:19.20 4th

Erin Finn 5,000m 15:26.08 1st

Brook Handler 5,000m 16:04.99 2nd

Shannon Osika 5,000m 16:09.05 5th

Cindy Ofili 100m Hurdles 13.07 1st

Erin Busbee 100m Hurdles 13.66 8th

Alex Leptich 3,000m Steeple 10:04.86 2nd

Megan Weschler 3,000m Steeple 10:11.56 5th

Cindy Ofili, Chinyere Onimo, Sami Michell, Maya Long 4x400m Relay 3:46.82 8th

Aaron Howell High Jump 1.75m (5-8.75) 4th

Kiley Tobel Pole Vault 4.10m (13-5.25) 7th

Aaron Howell Heptathlon 5,416 points 4th

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

2014 Academic Awards Banquet

• Fifth-year senior Jillian Smith was named Michigan's female Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient at U-M's Academic Awards Banquet April 15. The award is presented to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work." Smith is U-M's sixth Big Ten Medal of honor recipient during distance coach Mike McGuire's tenure and eighth all-time.

• Freshman Erin Finn received the Female Rookie of the Year award, which is awarded to the top freshman student-athlete who has excelled both academically and athletically.

• Filth-year senior Kiley Tobel was the recipient of the Big Ten Conference Postgraduate Scholarship awarded to one male and one female student-athlete from each of the Big Ten institutions who plan to continue their education in a graduate degree program. Tobel will be pursuing a career as a physician's assistant upon graduation.


• 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.


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.


Thu-Sat., May 29-31 -- at NCAA East Preliminary Rounds (Jacksonville, Fla.), Noon/10 a.m./Noon

Wed-Sat., June 11-14 -- at NCAA Outdoor Championships (Eugene, Ore.), 11:30 a.m./11 a.m./12:30 p.m./12:30 p.m. PDT

Contact: Whitney Dixon