U of M Women - Sereno, Phelan Clinch Berths to NCAA Outdoors

U of M Women - Sereno, Phelan Clinch Berths to NCAA Outdoors

Provided by U of M

» Gina Sereno extended her 2017 outdoor undefeated streak to six races while punching her ticket to the NCAA Championships at 5,000 meters.

» Jaimie Phelan became the third-fastest Michigan woman ever at 1,500 meters as she sealed up a berth to the NCAA Championships to try to defend her first team All-America honor from a year ago.

» The NCAA Championships (June 8-10) in Eugene, Oregon, are up next for Sereno, Phelan and Claire Borchers.

Site: Lexington, Ky. (UK Outdoor Track & Field Complex)

Event: NCAA East Preliminary Rounds (Day 3)

U-M Team Result: Non-scoring

Next U-M Event: Thu-Sat., June 8-10 -- at NCAA Outdoor Championships (Eugene, Ore.)

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Gina Sereno remained undefeated, and Jaimie Phelan moved up the ranks of all-time great University of Michigan women mid-distance runners to clinch NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships berths as the Wolverines closed out a weather-delayed final day at the NCAA East Preliminary Round on Saturday (May 27) at UK Outdoor Track & Field Complex.

Surrounded by distant flashes of lightning in the night sky, Sereno unleashed what has become a signature winning kick in her 5,000-meter heat to sew up a ticket to nationals June 8-10 in Eugene, Oregon, while Phelan earned a return trip to Eugene by slashing three full seconds off her career-best time with a 4:12.55 clocking -- a performance surpassed in Michigan history by only Shannon Osika and Lindsey Gallo -- for third in her heat.

Teammate Haley Meier unloaded nearly five full seconds from her career best en route to a 4:15.65 seventh-place finish in Phelan's heat, but it was ultimately not quite enough to punch her own ticket to Eugene. Meier finished 13th overall -- the first woman out -- just .58 behind former NCAA champion Rhianwedd Price of Mississippi State for the final berth to NCAAs. Still, only nine women in Michigan history have run faster than did Meier on Saturday night in Lexington, Kentucky.

Thunderstorms moving throughout the University of Kentucky area in the afternoon caused a nearly four-hour weather delay, which pushed all the track events -- still run with the threat of inclement weather nearby -- back an hour.

For Sereno -- a second team All-American individually both last year at 10,000 meters and this winter indoors at 3,000 meters -- her heat win in 16:28.03 marked her sixth win in as many races this outdoor season.

And, as has become custom for Sereno in postseason competition, it came right down to the line as she edged Alsu Bodganova of Eastern Michigan by only .17 -- an eternity compared to .04- and .05-second margins over Katherine Receveur of Indiana in Big Ten finals this year.

When combined with the second heat, Sereno finished with the eighth-fastest time of the day.

The two-time Big Ten outdoor champion took control of her heat, running at or near the front of the pack from start to finish and stretching out the field a fifth of the way in with a surge at 1,000 meters.

She led or was right off the lead until falling back into the lead pack as far as seventh with 800 meters to go. A quick surge on a penultimate lap -- her 76.64 was the quickest of that particular 400 meters -- moved Sereno up to third in a group of six at the bell.

That pack winnowed to five coming around the final turn, where Sereno turned on the afterburners to beat Bogdanova to the line by .17, Regan Rome of William and Mary by .37 and Veronica Eder of Auburn by .62.

Phelan, just as she did in her Big Ten title-winning performance at 1,500 meters, owned the late stages of her heat at same distance on Saturday.

Though she crossed the line with 800 meters to go in seventh place -- outside the five automatic bids to Eugene for the top five finishers in each of the two heats -- she covered that final half mile in 2:14.88, faster than anyone else in the field.

As the bell rang for one lap to go, Phelan ran right sixth, right in the middle of a chase pack behind runaway leader Jessica Harris of Notre Dame. The final 400 meters is where Phelan shone brightest, covering the final quarter mile in a race-best 64.58 seconds.

When all was said and done, only former Wolverines Osika (4:09.04) and Gallo (4:09.94) have ever run faster while donning the Maize and Blue.

Jamie Morrissey finished 12th in her heat after running a career-best time in Thursday's first-round action.

All that remains of this 2017 collegiate outdoor track and field season is the crown jewel of the sport, the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Three Wolverines -- Sereno, Phelan and last night's steeplechase qualifier Claire Borchers-- will compete on the sport's biggest domestic stage June 8-10 at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

The competition will be carried live on ESPN's various television and digital platforms.

Communications Contact: Kyle Terwillegar