U of M Women - Ofili, Sereno Collect Outdoor Conference Honors
Provided by U of M
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Senior Cindy Ofili and junior/sophomore Gina Sereno of the University of Michigan women's track and field team were recognized as the Big Ten Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year and Track Athlete of the Championships, respectively, the conference announced on Tuesday (May 17).
Both athletes are the first Wolverines to earn such honors since junior/sophomore Erin Finn swept the Big Ten Outdoor Athlete of the Championships, Athlete of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors in 2014. Overall, Ofili is Michigan's fourth Big Ten Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year, while Sereno has earned the seventh Big Ten Outdoor Athlete of the Championships honor in program history, and the fourth among track athletes.
The duo combined for 35 of Michigan's 106 points (Sereno, 20; Ofili, 15), the team's highest scoring performance since 2009 at the outdoor conference meet. Together, they helped the Wolverines earn the 17th Big Ten championship in program history (eighth outdoor) and the first outdoor title since 2007.
Ofili, now a five-time Big Ten champion, and Sereno, who won her first career conference medals, combined for three of the five gold medals collected by Wolverine athletes at the championship event hosted by the University of Nebraska.
This marks Ofili's second such honor at the conference level and first of the outdoor season (indoor; 2014). The owner of the No. 1 national seed in her specialty event, the 100-meter hurdles (12.66), Ofili was undefeated during such races in the regular season (6-0 including prelims) and successfully completed a three-peat defense of her Big Ten Title in the event last weekend in Lincoln. Ofili's race of 12.91 seconds brought home 10 points for the Wolverines (she later added another four in the 100-meter dash) and broke the Ed Weir Stadium Facility record in the process.
As the meet came down to the final event, the 4x400-meter relay, Ofili ran the first leg on the way to a new program record time of 3:33.42. Michigan's fifth-place showing in the event sealed its share of the conference championship, as the University of Minnesota matched the Wolverines' 106-point total to earn co-champion honors.
Ofili and her relay teammates may have never had the chance to earn Michigan the title if not for Sereno's heroic weekend. This year's recognition marks her first and comes after she doubled to win the 5,000 and 10,000-meter races, becoming the 11th woman in Big Ten history to duplicate that performance and the fourth Wolverine overall to accomplish the feat (Erin Finn; 2014, Rebecca Walter; 2006, Mindy Rowand; 1989-90).
After races were pushed back due to wind and cold on Friday (May 15), Sereno toed the line and won the 10K event in a 15-second PR time of 34:19.39. She then came back and put her fitness on display when she won the 5K event less than 48 hours later, crossing the finish line with a time of 16:08.42, a PR of more than 20 seconds.
Prior to this weekend, Sereno had scored just two career points at the outdoor meet (seventh place, 10,000 meters; 2015), illustrating the impact of her performance.
Senior/junior Emily Wee was honored by the conference as Michigan's Sportsmanship Honoree.
Qualified Michigan athletes will compete at the NCAA East Region Preliminary Rounds next week (May 26-28) at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida, while the NCAA Outdoor Championships loom the horizon (June 9, 11).
Communications Contact: Chad Shepard