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Leptich, Pendleton lead the way at Stanford

By Dylan McKenzie, For the Daily
Published April 8, 2012

Warm-weather meets have been good to the Michigan women's track and field team this year. The Wolverines went out West to Palo Alto, Calif., where they put together some strong performances at the Stanford Invitational on Friday and Saturday.

No performance was bigger than sophomore Alex Leptich hurdling her way to first place in Friday’s 3,000-meter steeplechase event. Friday was Leptich’s season debut in the event, and she shattered her previous record by 42 seconds with a 10:11.85.

“I felt confident that I had a chance to win,” Leptich said. “I didn’t really expect to drop that much time. I didn’t know we were going that fast.

“It is one of the faster times, so I do have a lot more confidence going into Big Tens.”

While Leptich was putting on a show on the track, senior captain Emily Pendleton was putting together solid performances in the throwing events. Competing in Friday’s shot-put and hammer throw events and Saturday’s discus event, Pendleton finished third, fifth and second, respectively.

“I’m really excited with how I did in shot put, it felt great from the get-go,” Pendleton said. “Discus was good also, but I’m really glad with how I did this weekend. It’s only our second meet.”

Emily’s sister, junior Erin Pendleton, also had a nice showing in the throwing events, but she was unable to best her sister in any of the three events, placing 13th, ninth and sixth.

Besides the throwers, the Wolverines also had success in the triple-jump event, where junior Ada Unachukwu and sophomore Erin Busbee took fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Many other Wolverines competed elsewhere on the track but struggled to find success against top-flight competition.

Sophomore Amber Smith, the team's top hurdler, competed in both the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles but was unable to advance to the final in either event. Junior Rebecca Addison had some success in the 1,500-meter run with her fifth-place finish (4:21.15), but she was unable to sustain that success in the 800-meter run, with an 11th-place finish. Junior Jillian Smith finished ninth in the event.

The lack of success on the track didn't seem to faze Henry, who said "We had some ups and downs, but overall it was a solid day for us."

Henry measured success not by victories but by hard work.

“We just wanted another blue-collar performance,” Henry said. “Coming out West is kind of hard on the body, but we tried to work through it. We had good performances.”

With the Big Ten Championships rapidly approaching, the focus for the young Michigan squad is on improving the rest of the year.

“We’ve got work to do and we’ve got a lot of time, and I do think we can get better,” Henry said. “Our goal is to continue to get better every week.”