U of M Women - Wolverines Punch Four Tickets on Final Day in Jacksonville
Provided by U of M
What You Need to Know
» The top NCAA seed, Cindy Ofili ran 12.86 to win the final heat of the 100-meter hurdles and punch her third ticket to the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
» Three athletes qualified today in the 1,500-meter run: Shannon Osika, Devon Hoppe and Jaimie Phelan, the latter two of whom will make their first outdoor national meet appearances.
» Those athletes will meet Gina Sereno (10,000 meters) and Aaron Howell (Heptathlon) in Eugene, Oregon, giving U-M six total entries, its most since 2009 (seven).
» The top 12 athletes and relay teams from the NCAA East and NCAA West Preliminary Rounds will now meet at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
• Complete Results PDF | NCAA East Preliminary Round Home
Site: Jacksonville, Fla. (Hodges Stadium)
Event: NCAA East Region Preliminary Rounds (Day 3)
U-M Team Result: Non-scoring
Next U-M Event: Thursday and Saturday, June 9 and 11 -- at NCAA Outdoor Championships (Eugene, Ore.)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The University of Michigan women's track and field team wrapped competition at the NCAA East Region Preliminary Rounds on Saturday (May 28), advancing three athletes in the 1,500-meter run and one in the 100-meter hurdles during the final day of competition at the University of North Florida's Hodges Stadium.
The Wolverines competed in the 100-meter hurdles, 1,500-meter run and 4x400-meter relay today, earning four final-day bids across those three events to the NCAA Outdoor Championships hosted by the University of Oregon in two weekends (June 9 and 11).
Head coach James Henry was pleased to see the competitive fire alive and well in his athletes this weekend.
"I was happy to see how hard our kids worked for this weekend," said Henry. "I thought there was a chance of a drop after such successful indoor and outdoor seasons, but we are very happy to see that they are still hungry and have that edge. Everyone who made it through (to nationals) gave that extra effort, and I was proud of each and every one of the girls."
With all three Wolverines qualified for today's 1,500-meter quarterfinal ranked among the top 14 in the East, there was a good chance of sending multiple entries through. The Maize and Blue did just that, marking the third time in the past four seasons with multiple entries in the 1,500 (2013, 2015; two each) pushing seniors Shannon Osika and Devon Hoppe through in the first heat and sophomore Jaimie Phelan in the second.
Osika took second place in her heat, finishing behind Mississippi State's Marta Freitas in 4:13.89, her second-fastest run of the season and about a half-second shy of her PR. Frietas led from the gun, but Osika went with her early and the move paid off as she had a lengthy gap between herself and the rest of the chase pack.
"It ended up being a very smooth race," said Osika. "(Freitas) took it out, and I kind of just tucked in behind her. I tried to keep my rhythm, and it ended up going really well."
Osika, who will return to the national meet after a late injury forced her to scratch in 2015, ran with Hoppe in the first heat, but the U-M co-captain was more patient in her approach.
She waited to make an aggressive move until crossing the line at the bell lap, and when she did make her maneuver, she moved up from sixth to her fourth-place finish in a huge PR -- 4:15.23, splitting the fastest final lap in the field.
Hoppe swept the Big Ten individual titles at 800 meters this year (indoor and outdoor), and her decision to move from 800 to 1,500 meters paid off in a big way this weekend. Now Hoppe is making her first trip to Oregon, and she cannot wait for the opportunity.
"I'm really excited," said Hoppe. "The first thing (Coach McGuire) said (after the race) was that he was glad we decided to move me up from the 800 to the 1,500 because we knew I had a lot more to give in the 15. I'm just really looking forward to seeing what I can do in a couple of weeks."
Phelan ran in the second heat, leading for stretches of the race, and she battled with a few other athletes for a photo finish, timing a smaller PR in 4:19.22, her second run under 4:20 this year. After watching her teammates run in the first heat, Phelan was inspired to her season-best performance.
"I had fun watching these two compete before me," she said, "so I tried to bring their energy into my race. I tried to stay with the top pack and finish strong, and I'm really excited to be going to Eugene."
In the 100-meter hurdles, Ofili continued her impressive outdoor season by running 12.86 to win the third and final heat of the evening. She automatically qualified for the championships in two weekends and will make her third appearance at the outdoor meet.
In the 4x400-meter relay, Michigan was represented by a squad of junior Sami Michell, senior/junior Emily Wee, senior Danielle Pfeifer and senior Maya Long, three-quarters of the group that set the program record at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
Michell looked smooth on the first leg and handed off to Wee with U-M pushing for a top-five position. However, a down athlete at the start line tripped up Pfeifer as she took the baton from Wee on the second exchange. She recovered quickly and finished her leg before handing off to Long, who closed for U-M with a finishing time of 3:42.95. It marked the final race for three U-M seniors: Pfeifer, Long and Wee, who closed their U-M careers with a pair of Big Ten championships this season.
Saying goodbye to seniors is never easy, but Henry is glad he got to send this class out with a pair of Big Ten titles.
"We're proud of all of our seniors, especially because they closed their careers with great team performances," said Henry. "I want to thank each and every one of them for being great team people and for sacrificing individual accolades for the team. For the seniors that are still competing, we hope they will finish their career in amazing style in a couple of weeks."
Qualified Wolverines will now begin preparations for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, scheduled for Thursday and Saturday, June 9 and 11 at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
COLLEGIATE PERSONAL BESTS
Devon Hoppe -- 4:15.23
Jaimie Phelan -- 4:19.22
Communications Contact: Chad Shepard