Former Reed City state champion finishes third track season at Michigan

ANN ARBOR — Sami Michell has one season of track and field remaining at the University of Michigan and is hoping it will be a memorable one.

The former record-breaking state champion from Reed City completed her third season of indoor and outdoor track for the Wolverines recently

At Michigan as a junior, Michell was a competing member of the 2016 Big Ten indoor and outdoor championship teams. During the outdoor season, she was in the 100 and 400-meter hurdle prelims at the NCAA East Preliminary Round and ran 13.87 for 43rd place in the 100 and 59.31 in the 400.

“It was all right,” Michell said. “It wasn’t quite the season I had hoped for. Some good things happened.”

Michell scored in two events at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in mid-May by hitting a personal record of 13.41 in the 100-meter hurdle prelims and scoring with a seventh-place finish in 13.80, and also finished eighth in the 400-meter hurdles (58.70)

Another key highlight was winning the 100-meter hurdles in 13.93 at the Toledo Classic. She won the 400-meter hurdles in a season-best 59.20 while also finishing third in the 100-meter hurdles (13.78) at the Jesse Owens Classic (April 22-23).

“I could tell I was ready to have a big race and I did a lot of things better,” Michell said. “But I didn’t have what I would consider a break through race I was hoping for.”

During the indoor season, she ran a personal-best 8.43 seconds to finish 10th in the prelims of the 60-meter hurdles race at the Big Ten Championships (Feb. 26), narrowly missing a bid to the finals. Michell helped Michigan win the Notre Dame Invitational, finishing third in the 60-meter hurdles (8.64) and second in the 4x400 relay (3:45.39). She won the 60 meter hurdles at other races.

“I thought it was a better season,” Michigan girls track coach James Henry said. “She’s gotten a lot more competitive. Her times have gotten better. Our conference is so much improved. She may not think she improved, but she had a very good year.”

As a sophomore during the outdoor season Michell scored in three races at the Big Ten Championships, placing third in the 400-meter hurdles (PR of 58.46) and fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (13.51).

During the indoor season, she ran 8.5 seconds at the Big Ten Championships.

A highlight as a freshman was taking 10th in the 400 meter hurdles at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

At the league indoor championships, she finished 25th in the long jump (5.46 meters, 17-11 ft.) and 13th in 60-meter hurdles (8.62)

During this summer, Michell is lifting to get ready for her senior season. She and her teammates will start training again in September when classes resume. She’s obviously hoping for her best season with various goals such as being a national qualifier.

“Your last year is your best year,” Henry said. “Unfortunately we graduated Cindy Ofili. Fortunately, we have Sami Mitchell. It’s my expectation and hope that she’ll step into that role. I confidently feel that she’s capable of stepping in and being just as good as Cindy.”

Ofili has qualified for the Rio Olympics later this summer.

The relays and hurdles remain Michell’s specialty.

“I really want to focus on the 400 hurdles,” she said, “and bring my times down in that and make it to nationals. I’m pretty even in both my (hurdles) events. I might be a little bit better in the 100 hurdles at the moment.”

Michell won 12 state titles in her four seasons at Reed City. She won the 100 and 300 hurdles, plus the 200 meters and long jump in both her junior and senior seasons. Her four first places were all the points Reed City had in 2013 to take second-place state honors in Division 3.

She acknowledged that the 400 hurdles in college, being 100 more meters than the 300 in high school, “makes it a lot harder. I’m also competing against a higher level. The strategy is a lot different.”

Being on the conference indoor and outdoor championship team, “were really exciting,” Michell said.