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GH's Addison helps U-M relay win national title

Nate Thompson • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:21 PM

Becca Addison’s running resume already includes MHSAA Division 1 and Big Ten Conference individual titles.

Now, the Grand Haven graduate can add NCAA national champion to that list.

Addison accomplished the feat as a member of the University of Michigan’s distance medley relay team at the NCAA Division 1 Indoor Track and Field Championships, held March 8-9 on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark.

The distance medley is only featured during the indoor season. Addison started the race, completing 1,200 meters, followed by freshman Maya Long running a 400. Senior Jillian Smith was next in line by running an 800 and anchor Amanda Eccleston, a U-M grad student who previously ran at Hillsdale, finished the race by covering a mile.

Addison and Smith had each qualified in the 800 run for the championships, and Eccleston had qualified in the mile, but each gave up potential individual glory for a better shot in the relay – with the encouragement from the Michigan coaching staff.

“(Associate head coach Mike McGuire) really wanted us to focus on the relay, and with our time coming in, there were a lot of teams grouped close right with us,” Addison said. “So he felt it was just better for all of us to be really fresh. We had that plan a week before the meet.”

 “We volleyed back and forth with the idea for quite a while, but we made the decision to, rather than be All-American in two events, we decided ‘let’s be a national champion in one,’” McGuire said.

Addison said she had trouble gaining separation in the early-going as crowding amongst the field kept pushing her to the back.

“My parents were watching and they said it was tough to watch. They were freaking out,” Addison said with a laugh.

“In the last lap, I was able to move up,” she added. “I was feeling pretty good and passed quite a few runners.”

Addison was in third place when she handed off to Long, who maintained the Wolverines’ third place standing.

“For a freshman, she really stepped up,” Addison said of Long.

Smith made a late surge in her 800 run to put the Wolverines in front, and a tremendous 4 minute, 33 second mile split by Eccleston helped U-M pull away and beat the runner-up squad from Villanova by just over a second. The Wolverines finished in a time of 10:56.46.

Addison said the team was thrilled after clinching the victory, becoming just the fourth U-M team ever to win the NCAA crown in the event and the first since 2005. Their time also set a new school record, which they had previously set the following weekend at the Notre Dame Alex Wilson Invitational.

“It was so exciting. I was just hugging and screaming with Jillian, but we had to wait for Amanda to catch her breath because she had just run an amazing mile,” Addison said.

Addison said she’ll get a little break before focusing on the outdoor track season, where she’s hoping to go out with a bang. If anything, she’d like a repeat of her sophomore outdoor season, when she won a Big Ten Conference title in the 1,500 run and was runner-up in the 800.

A year ago, however, she slipped to sixth and eighth in the same events at the Big Ten championships.

“It was just an off year,” she said.

Addison, a two-time Academic All Big Ten honoree, said her athletic eligibility will up following the spring, but she has an extra semester of classes to finish before she can graduate. Addison, a Movement Science major, plans to attend grad school where she’ll pursue a public health degree.

That will leave just one Addison on U-M’s squad — sophomore Laura — who is also a middle distance runner for the Wolverines.

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