Wolverine Women Reclaim Big Ten Indoor Crown
Provided by U of M
What You Need to Know
» The Maize and Blue claimed the program's first indoor title since 2006, marking the program's 16th overall Big Ten title and its ninth during the indoor season.
» Michigan won titles in the 800 (Devon Hoppe), Mile (Shannon Osika) and 5K (Erin Finn) to bolster scoring on Saturday.
» Finn's 5K performance also broke her program record set earlier this month at the same facility, while Maya Long improved the 400-meter record she established on Friday's prelims.
• Complete Results PDF | Photo Gallery
Site: Geneva, Ohio (SPIRE Institute)
Event: Big Ten Indoor Championships (Day 2 of 2)
U-M Team Result: 1st Place of 13 Teams (109 points)
Next U-M Event: Fri-Sat., March 11-12 -- at NCAA Indoor Championships (Birmingham, Ala.)
GENEVA, Ohio -- The No. 6-ranked University of Michigan women's track and field team brought home the indoor conference crown in a satisfying finish on Saturday (Feb. 27) on day two of the Big Ten Indoor Championships, using scoring contributions from 13 individual athletes, plus relay members, across 10 events and one relay to edge the Purdue Boilermakers by a seven-point margin in the team standings at the SPIRE Institute.
Junior Erin Finn totaled 20 points as an individual, and senior co-captain Cindy Ofili added 16 of her own to lead the individual scorers for the Maize and Blue, but make no mistake -- this was a team effort, from each staff member down to the last Wolverine.
"The staff has worked really hard. I have an excellent staff, both paid and volunteer coaches -- I am very proud of how hard they work," said head coach James Henry, "But I'm even more proud of the young ladies. They believe in the program and system and they realize that we've come so close for so many years, being in the top two or three. They knew that this year we were healthy and determined and they fought to the end, and now they know: being a champion is a good feeling."
Entering Saturday, the Wolverines trailed Penn State by a noteworthy margin. The Nittany Lions had scored into the 50s, while the Maize and Blue sat in the mid-20's, but that did not deter this squad. Instead, they focused up and scored at almost every possible opportunity on day two of the championships.
"That stung a little bit (being down after Friday)," said Finn, "but I'm so proud of how we rallied and kept fighting. We fought hard today, and we fought hard yesterday too. To finally come out on top is one of the most incredible feelings I've known, and what is so cool is that I didn't do it, Cindy (Ofili) didn't do it and Shannon (Osika) didn't do it -- we all did it together. It's an irreplaceable feeling and it's really an incredible thing when everybody comes together."
In the 5K race, a pair of Wolverines scored, led by Finn. The junior/sophomore dynamo shaved more than a second off her program record set earlier this month at the same facility, lapping several athletes in the field in an impressive performance.
"I just wanted to get out there and grind and break them early," Finn later explained.
"I wanted to set a pace that I knew I could be the one to hang on to. Once I got out there, I got into my zone, and my love for the 5K took over."
Junior/sophomore Gina Sereno also scored for U-M in the event, placing sixth for three points.
Senior Shannon Osika jockeyed with Purdue's Katie Hoevet but came away with her first career individual Big Ten crown, winning the mile race in 4:39.76. Osika has been a three-time Big Ten Champion in the DMR, but was happy to collect her first individual title as well.
Fifth-year senior Laura Addison (4th place; five points) and sophomore Claire Borchers (5th place; four points) also scored for U-M, providing a huge 19 points in the event.
In the 800, U-M scored four athletes with a 1-3-5-6 finish. Hoppe took her first career individual Big Ten championship in 2:05.50, a lifetime-best time for the Wolverine co-captain and tied for the fastest 800 by any Wolverine this year. Hoppe made her move around the 100-meter mark, passing her teammate, senior Danielle Pfeifer, and holding off Illinois' Nicole Choquette down the stretch.
Junior Jamie Morrissey (fifth place) also scored in the event, along with senior/junior Gina McNamara (sixth place) to give the Maize and Blue a critical 23 points in the event.
Though a lot of athletes battle through injury this time of year, the 800 finish was particularly special for Morrissey, who had the option to shut down her season or power through a broken foot she suffered during this indoor campaign. She opted to continue fighting -- for herself and her teammates -- and it paid off on Saturday in the most gratifying way possible.
Junior/sophomore Jaimie Phelan provided more late scoring for the Maize and Blue, timing 1:29.35 for a runner-up finish in her heat of the 600. Phelan ran in the second of two final heats, and third place overall. The finish between her and Iowa's Montayla Holder could not have been closer. Holder leaned across just ahead of Phelan to finish with a time of 1:29.344, meaning just six thousandths of a second separated Phelan from a runner-up finish.
In a 400-meter field that featured five athletes with at least one Big Ten championship under their belt, Long added a scoring punch for the Wolverines by placing seventh. She eclipsed the program-best time that she set in Friday's prelims by timing a lifetime-best 53.64 seconds.
Ofili ran to a runner-up finish in the 60-meter hurdles, timing 7.99 for her second sub-eight effort this year. After back-to-back titles, Ofili was just barely shy of a three-peat, as her lean could not overcome a well-executed race from Purdue's Divynne Charlton.
Her time would have been a SPIRE Facility record, which she had previously owned at 8.02, set earlier this year, had Charlton not matched Ofili's own PR with a time of 7.97, tops in the nation, which illustrates just how tight the race was.
Ofili placed fifth in the 60-meter dash for four points (7.39) and fifth in the 200-meter race (23.76) for another four, bringing her weekend total to 16.
"I'm extremely happy that we came out with the title," Ofili said.
"Everybody showed out the way we needed them to. Individually I didn't have the performances I would have liked to have, but this weekend was all about the team and I feel so blessed that we came away with a Big Ten Title, especially during my senior year. That's what it's all about."
Sophomore Claire Kieffer-Wright placed fourth in the high jump to add five points to the team total. Kieffer-Wright cleared 1.78 meters (5-10 ft.), the fourth height of her progression, on the first attempt.
Women's Track & Field
Women's Track & Field
Women's Track & Field
U-M will rest up during the academic break that Michigan is currently in the midst of, while qualified individuals and the distance medley relay (DMR) will begin preparation for the NCAA Indoor Championships (March 11-12) in Birmingham, Alabama, hosted by Samford University.
COLLEGIATE PERSONAL BESTS
Maya Long -- 53.64^
Jaimie Phelan -- 1:29.35
Devon Hoppe -- 2:05.50
Erin Finn -- 15:37.31^$
^ = School Record
$ = Facility Record
Communications Contact: Chad Shepard