Former Reed City state champ does the job with Michigan team

ANN ARBOR — Sami Michell made it look easy in four sensational track and field seasons at Reed City, including the last two when she won four state titles each time.

Her point total gave Reed City a state runner-up finish in 2013. At Michigan, Michell knew she would have to step it up a few notches and, after her freshman season, she realizes she wants to step it up a few more.

But her Michigan coach, James Henry, liked what he saw from the former Coyote hurdler and long jumper, who did those events, along with relays, for the Wolverines.

“It was a successful season in terms of that she did very well academically,” Henry said. “She acclimated herself exceptionally well with her teammates. She’s gotten a lot stronger. She’s about ready to compete at our level in the Big Ten.”

For indoors, her best in the 60-meter hurdles was 8.62 seconds, in the 200 meters was 25.51 seconds, in the 300 meters was 41.17 and in the long jump 17-11. Her best outdoor performances were 14.12 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, 1:01.7 in the 400-meter hurdles and 18-4 1/4 in the long jump.

“We started training in September once school started,” Michell said. “We did a lot of conditioning and that sort of thing.”

At the Big Ten Indoor Championships, Michell took 25th in the long jump (17-11) and 13th in the 60-meter hurdles (8.62). She was second at the Silverston Invitational in the long jump (17-6.75) and second in the 60-meter hurdles (8.74).

She also saw action in the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational and placed 40th in the 200-meter dash (25.83), 11th in the 60-meter hurdles (8.82) and ran the third leg of the fifth-place 4x400-meter relay (3:36.83). Michell, at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational, was sixth in the 60-meter hurdles (8.73). At the Grand Valley State Open (Jan. 10), Michell took fourth in the 60-meter hurdles (8.77) and fourth in the 300-meter dash (41.17).

Michell had various outdoor highlights. At the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, she was 15th in the 100-meter hurdles (14.14), 10th in the 400-meter hurdles (1:03.28) and 14th in the long jump (18-4), and ran the first leg of the eighth place 4x400-meter relay (3:44.69).

“We were all-Big Ten in the relays,” Michell said.

At the Toledo Invitational, Michell landed sixth in the 100-meter hurdles (14.83) and fourth in the 400-meter hurdles (1;03.93). Michell finished second in the 100-meter hurdles (13.89), third in the 400-meter hurdles (1:02.27) and fifth in the long jump (17-11.75) at the Hillsdale Relays. At the North Florida Invitational, she took second in the 400-meter hurdles (1:02.83), fifth in the 100-meter hurdles (14.66) and 17th in the long jump (17-2 3/4).

“Definitely it was not what I was looking for time-wise,” Michell said. “I think I got better. I think I was kind of worn out by the end of the season.”

She competed in all meets for Michigan except for nationals.

Division I track “is extremely competitive,” Michell noted. “Track isn’t like basketball where they go pro early. Everyone sticks around. Some of the people in Division I are some of the best in the world.”

Right now, Michell is lifting and working on getting faster and stronger. She’ll be in Reed City for a month this summer.

Next season, “I think I can improve my time a lot in the 400 hurdles,” Michell said. “I really want to focus more on that. Hopefully, I can qualify at least for regionals, maybe nationals for that.”

Michell is hopeful in the long jump. She acknowledges that it’s still a matter of being comfortable in that, especially in light of the knee injury she sustained the fall of 2012 that required surgery and rehabilitation. She added that adjusting to Division I track was also a transition.

“I think it took me all season, especially in the 4x4,” she said. When I had the leadoff and there were girls who were 53, 52 splits, that can be pretty intimidating.

“But it’s fun to be a Wolverine,” Michell said.

“Her injury pretty much held her back physically as well as psychologically,” Henry said. “She wasn’t as strong as she needed to be for our level. She didn’t realize her body was not ready to go all out because her balance was off.

“She was on the brink of making finals (of the Big Ten) in probably every event she had. The timing wasn’t there for her. It wasn’t her year to have the type of year she wanted to have. But I was somewhat content that she kept going to the plate. At times she was striking out and not getting what she wanted out of it. There were glimpses that it was coming around and next year will be her best year.”

Henry likes Michell’s potential for 2014-15. “I think she will be a finalist in both the long jump and short hurdles,” Henry said. “She will be an intricate member of our 4x400 relay indoors and a short and long hurdler and 4x1 outdoors. I think she’ll be a good short and long hurdler for us.

“We want her to be one of the top eight long jumpers and top eight hurdlers in the Big Ten, and I think she has capabilities of doing that. She’s close, no cigar, but she’ll be smoking next year. She’s come from a pedigree of parents (Brent and Vikki Michell) that are coaches and know the sport and is a complete Michigan Wolverine. She has a ton of skills.”