Making her mark

Michell continues her banner track career with strong season at Michigan

ANN ARBOR — Her sophomore track season at the University of Michigan isn’t over yet, but it’s been a satisfying one for former Reed City multi-event state champion Sami Michell.

This weekend at the regional in Jacksonville, Fla., Michell still has a shot to qualify for the NCAA nationals, which are in Eugene, Ore. (June 10-13).

“It’s like a prelim to the nationals,” Michell said. “I have a legitimate chance of qualifying for nationals.”

The 4x4 relay is close to the school record.

“It’d be cool to do that,” Michell said. “I’m close to the school record in the 400 hurdles. I haven’t thought about it too much and I would like to get it.”

The current record is 57.44 in the 400 hurdles. Her best time has been 58.46.

Michell scored for Michigan in two races at the Big Ten Championships at Michigan State (May 15-17), taking third in the 400-meter hurdles with a personal record (58.46) and fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (13.51). She ran to a third-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles (59.08), a 12th-place finish in the 100 hurdles (14.15) and sparked Michigan to an eighth-place effort in the 4x400 meter relay at the Drake Relays.

At Jacksonville, Michell will try to qualify for nationals in both hurdles and the 4x400 relay. She figures the 400 will be her best best but needs to break 58 seconds. The top 12 from the regional go to the national meet.

At Reed City, Michell won the state 100 and 300 hurdles, the 200 and long jump in both 2012 and 2013. By scoring all 40 of her team’s points in the 2013 Division 3 outdoor meet, Mitchell got Reed City the runner-up trophy. In four seasons, she won 12 individual outdoor titles.

But in the fall of 2012, she sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury. While she was able to duplicate her high school state title accomplishments, the injury may have impacted her somewhat as a collegiate freshman.

Michigan coach James Henry noticed Michell was able to perform as a sophomore without any ramifications from the past injury and has grown in confidence and motivation.

“She had a good bounceback season from last year,” Henry said. “She proved she could compete at this level. She gave 100 percent in rehabbing herself.”

During the indoor season, Michell established a personal record at that time of 8.56 in the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational (Feb. 7). Michell ran 8.50 in the 60-meter dash at the Big Ten Championships (Feb. 27-28).

“She realized what she needed to do,” Henry said.

In her freshman season, Michell, at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, took 15th in the 100-meter hurdles (14.14), 10th in the 400-meter hurdles (1:03.28), 14th in the long jump (18-4) and ran the first leg of the eighth-place 4x400-meter relay (3:44.69).

“Last year, was not good at all,” Michell said. “I was not happy with how I ran. It was pretty depressing. This year, with indoors, I had a good season. It didn’t end up the year I wanted it to. I kind of messed up during the prelims at the Big Ten. In the 60 hurdles, there’s no time to mess up. It didn’t end the way I wanted it to. I still considered it a pretty good season.”

But the spring of 2015 has been a good one for Michell.

“Pretty much everything I wanted to happen happened outdoors so far,” she said, while acknowledging her performance at the Big Ten outdoor meet was a major highlight. “I really wanted to get a medal. They only give out three in each event, that was cool. I just missed a medal in the 100 hurdles. I (ahead of time) would have been so happy with fourth place. But when you see you’re (very close) to a medal, it was kind of sad.”

Michell acknowledged the 400 was probably her best event.

“I do think there’s more room for improvement,” she said.

Michell usually ran the second leg in the 400 relay although the order of runners would occasionally change.

Considering she’s in the Big 10 at a prestigious university, Michell acknowledged her accomplishments so far have been gratifying.

“Taking a third in 400 hurdles and then fourth in the 100 and getting a medal, it’s one of those things that you don’t know if that will happen to you,” Michell said. “Doing that was exciting.”

When she completes her season, Michell has two years of eligibility and room for growth, Henry said.

But Michell’s effort at the 2015 Big 10 meet “solidified that fact that she’s one of the better athletes in the conference,” Henry said. “I think she has more confidence in the 400 hurdles.”

Henry is also Michell’s hurdles coach and Michell agreed she was motivated to exceed in various areas.

“This year, I had more confidence in my abilities,” she said.