Michell signs with Michigan

SIGNING ON: Sami Michell (center) signs her letter of intent to run track at the University of Michigan. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)
SIGNING ON: Sami Michell (center) signs her letter of intent to run track at the University of Michigan. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

REED CITY -- Four-event state champion Sami Michell officially signed her national letter of intent Thursday to become a member of the University of Michigan track and field program.

Michell, whose senior spring track season will start with the official first day of practice on March 11, made her verbal announcement last month.

Michell is coming off an anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained in the volleyball preseason. She had surgery in September, and has been waiting for the green light to start getting ready for the 2013 season.

Michell said she’ll be receiving a full-ride scholarship.

“I’ve been kind of a Michigan fan my whole life. I’ve always kind of wanted to go to Michigan,” Michell said. “It just feels right. I’ve been going to all the games and stuff and realized I really liked the school.”

Winning four open events had only been done one other time until Michell became the second at the state track finals in any division in June. She did her four at Comstock Park in the Division 3 finals.

But she did more than just take first place in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles, the long jump and the 200-meter dash.

The Reed City junior also became a three-time state champ in the 100-meter hurdles, and a two-time state titlist in the long jump and 300-meter hurdles.

She set Division 3 records in both hurdles and the long jump and also the all-divisions record in the 300 hurdles.

But more impressively, by winning her last event of the day, the 200-meter dash for the first time in her three-year career, Michell became a four-time state champion in individual events.

Michigan coach James Henry, in his 29th year of running the Wolverine women’s track program, said Friday that his staff started recruiting Michell actively at the end of her junior season.

“We watched her since her sophomore year in high school,” Henry said. “It’s her athletic ability that we noticed and we noticed how she progressed and how she improved and how she handled herself under pressure in competition.”

Henry said Michigan coaches guarantee athletes that they’ll run what they did in high school, meaning Michell is slated for the long and short hurdles, plus the long jump and some relays.

“We like to think that they might have some skills they’re unaware of so we can put them in other events,” Henry said. “When they come here, we want them to be the best they can be.”

Henry said athletes might be redshirted, especially if they’re coming off an injury, or if the coach doesn’t feel they’re emotionally and psychologically ready.

Despite Michell’s injury, Henry said his staff’s expectations that she would be able to step in and contribute right during her true freshman season, 2013-14.

“It’s always a concern when an athlete gets injured,” Henry said “We feel confident with what her parents, coaches and physical therapists are doing.”

Once athletes come to Michigan, Henry said he’s comfortable with the quality of U-M doctors to make sure athletes are ready to go.

Michell said in January that she’s been running as a part of her therapy and some floor running. On Thursday, she confirmed that she’s participated in some indoor meets.

“I ran in two (indoor high school) meets this week, Tuesday and (Wednesday) night,” Michell said. “I ran at CMU and Michigan. I didn’t’ run my best times but I did OK.”

It was Michell’s first track action since her injury.

“I won on Tuesday and I took third (Wednesday night),” she said. “My times got better. I don’t really have my rhythm back.

“I’m going to a meet on Saturday and I feel I’ll run a lot better.”

But Michell anticipates eventually being to where she wants to be. The indoor meets are helping her get back in the groove, she added.

Henry is excited over Michell’s potential and what she could achieve if she progresses.

“I think she can be one of the best athletes in the Big 10 and then, one of the best athletes nationally,” he said. “That depends on where her heart is. That will tell where she goes athletically. We have (high) expectations of all our athletes.”

Henry anticipates that his 2013-14 women’s team will be strong in the long jump and hurdles areas with veterans, plus the addition of Michell.