U of M Women - Distance Medley Relay Win Headlines Day One of Big Ten Indoors

U of M Women - Distance Medley Relay Win Headlines Day One of Big Ten Indoors

Provided by U of M

// Kyle Terwillegar

» The distance medley relay team of Hannah Meier, Jade Harrison, Claire Borchers and Haley Meier won its 14th Big Ten Indoor title in the past 17 years

» Aaron Howell posted the fourth-best pentathlon score in Michigan history to take the Big Ten bronze and position herself for a chance at qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championships

» The mid-distance squad advanced four entries -- three milers in the Meier twins and Borchers, and Micaela Degenero in the 800 -- to Saturday's finals

Site: Geneva, Ohio (SPIRE Institute)

Event: Big Ten Indoor Championships

U-M Team Result: 5th of 13 teams (20 points)

Next U-M Event: Saturday, Feb. 24 -- Day Two of Big Ten Indoor Championships (Geneva, Ohio), 11 a.m.

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GENEVA, Ohio -- The University of Michigan women's track and field team's legacy of distance medley relay dominance at the Big Ten Indoor Championships continued Friday (Feb. 23) as the Wolverine relay squad headlined three scoring efforts on day one of the championships.

The quartet of Hannah Meier, Jade Harrison, Claire Borchers and Haley Meier won Michigan's 14th DMR conference title in the last 17 seasons to close out a first day of competition at the SPIRE Institute that also saw pentathlete Aaron Howell and distance runner Gina Sereno score for the Wolverines.

Combining the DMR's 10 points for winning their race with Howell's six points earned from taking third in the pentathlon and Sereno's four from her fifth-place run over 3,000 meters, the Wolverines closed out the first of two days with 20 points -- good for fifth in the team standings.

Wisconsin leads after day one with 46 points, followed by Penn State (28), Indiana (24), Minnesota (22) and Michigan.

The Wolverines still have firepower in reserve for day two, with the trio of the Meier twins and Borchers advancing from the mile prelims and Micaela Degenero moving on at 800 meters. They join reigning Big Ten Outdoor high-jump champion Claire Kieffer-Wright and Sereno at 5,000 meters in action on Saturday.

Michigan's win in the distance medley relay was built on a strong foundation of quick running in the early legs and strong solo running from Haley Meier on the 1,600-meter anchor leg.

Hannah&nsp;Meier clocked approximately 3:23 for the opening 1,200-meter leg of the race, giving the stick to Harrison with a two-second lead going into her 400-meter duty. Harrison maintained and built on Michigan's advantage, checking in with an approximate 53-second split to hand off to Borchers.

Borchers maintained the squad's advantage throughout her 800-meter leg, tagging in Haley Meier with about 6:25 on the clock. Running all alone for the entirety of her section, Meier clocked in at approximately 4:40.

While the team's performance was strong enough to earn them the Big Ten title, it was not the improvement on their season's best they had hoped for. Ranked 12th entering the weekend -- only 12 teams advance to the NCAA Championships -- with other teams around the nation having clocked faster times in the past 24 hours, the Michigan streak of 15 consecutive NCAA berths in the event has come to an end.

The top individual performance of the day came courtesy of Howell, who earned her first Big Ten Indoor medal after winning the Big Ten Outdoor heptathlon last spring. En route to posting a career-best score of 4,133 points -- the No. 4 score in Michigan history -- Howell launched a significant personal record in the shot put and approached her all-time bests in the 60-meter hurdles and high jump.

The score ranks her No. 11 in the nation, well inside of the 16-woman cutoff for NCAA Championships qualifying with only a handful of pentathlons left to be contested around the nation on this final weekend of qualifying.

Howell opened the day with an 8.67-second clocking in the hurdles that came within .07 of her lifetime best in the event. She kept the momentum into the high jump, where she cleared a season-best 1.72m (5 feet, 7.75 inches) bar that was just four centimeters shy of her PR.

She shone brightest in the shot put, as she launched a mark of 13.35m (43-9.75) to improve her career best in the event by nearly two feet.

A 5.61m (18-5) leap in the long jump followed one event later, and an even longer jump was wiped off the board by the narrowest of foot fouls at the takeoff board. She held on for a 2:22.39 effort at 800 meters to cap off the afternoon.

On the track Sereno could not replicate the same magic that won her the Big Ten Indoor 3,000-meter title a year ago, but she performed well enough to clock 9:18,48 and contribute points to Michigan's team effort -- and put a chip on her shoulder for Saturday's 5,000-meter final.

After pushing the pace early and leading for much of the race, Sereno dropped back in the pack in the final laps and could not overcome late-race kicks by winner Katherine Receveur of Indiana and her teammate Margaret Allen, as well as the Wisconsin duo of Amy Davis and Alicia Monson.

In the shorter-distance races, the trio of the Meier twins and Borchers will have an opportunity to run off any disappointment from the distance medley relay in Saturday's mile final after all three made it through the prelims. Hannah Meier and Borchers went 1-3 in the first heat, while Haley Meier took the win in Heat 2 with the day's fastest time (4:41.85).

Freshman Degenero outperformed her No. 11 pre-meet rank at 800 meters to make the eight-woman final with a career-best 2:09.96. Leading two-time Big Ten champion Danae Rivers of Penn State at the bell, Degenero held on strong to take third in her heat with a time that held up for non-automatic qualifying.

The Wolverines had a few near-misses as Meghan Marias was just .01 of a second from making the nine-woman 60 meters final in a season-best tie of 6.52 for 10th and freshman Michaiah Thomas was just one spot from making the 60-meter hurdles final in 10th place (8.54).

Sarah Uhlian cleared the same 3.98m (13-0.75) bar as the eighth-place finisher in the pole vault, but took more attempts to do so -- she made it on her third-and-final attempt -- and was tie-broken out of the points. She did, however, come away with the No. 2 spot on the all-time Michigan list behind school record-holder Kiley Tobel.

Action resumes at the SPIRE Institute on Saturday at 11 a.m. with field events and 1:20 p.m. with the first track final.

New U-M Collegiate Career Bests on Saturday

Micaela Degenero -- 2:09.96 / 800m

Aaron Howell -- 13.35m (43-9.75) / Shot Put

Meghan Marias -- 24.75 / 200m

Lauren Morgan -- 7.77 / 60m

Lauren Morgan -- 25.18 / 200m

Jenna Reid -- 9.45 / 60m Hurdles

Sarah Uhlian -- 3.98m (13-0.75) / Pole Vault

60 Meters Prelims

10. Meghan Marias / 7.52

15. Torisa Johnson / 7.58

25. Lauren Morgan / 7.77

27. Akili Echols / 7.86

200 Meters Prelims

19. Meghan Marias / 24.75

24. Lauren Morgan / 25.18

400 Meters Prelims

13. Jade Harrison / 54.05

26. Julia Hall / 56.93

33. Jenna Reid / 60.09

600 Meters Prelims

18. Chloe Foster / 1:32.57

800 Meters Prelims

8. Micaela Degenero / 2:09.96q

17. Alice Hill / 2:17.44

Mile Prelims

1. Haley Meier / 4:41.85Q

2. Hannah Meier / 4:44.38Q

6. Claire Borchers / 4:44.64Q

16. Rachel Barrett / 4:49.21

3,000 Meters Final

5. Gina Sereno / 9:18.48

10. Sophie Linn / 9:41.62

14. Meg Darmofal / 9:54.22

60-Meter Hurdles Prelims

10. Michaiah Thomas / 8.54

22. Jenna Reid / 9.45

Distance Medley Relay Final

1. Han. Meier, Harrison, Borchers, Hal. Meier / 11:04.77

Pole Vault Final

9. Sarah Uhlian / 3.98m (13-0.75)

Pentathlon Final

3. Aaron Howell / 4,133 points

60-meter hurdles - 8.67

High Jump - 1.72m (5-7.75)

Shot Put - 13.35m (43-9.75)

Long Jump - 5.61m (18-5)

800 meters - 2:22.39