Sept. 14, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State cross country program hosted their annual Auto-Owner's Insurance Spartan Invitational on Friday at the Forest Akers Golf Course on the University campus. Over 5,000 athletes competed, including collegiate, high school and middle school teams, breaking the meet-record for participants.
The competition began with the collegiate women's 6K race. Five Spartans finished in the top-25 in the only home race of the season. First to cross the finish line for MSU was redshirt senior Rachel McFarlane, placing 10th overall with a time of 21:38.
"My performance was alright, but as a team I think we did a really good job of running together," McFarlane said. "We spread out a little bit, but for our first time racing as a group with everyone, I think it went pretty well."
On the heels of McFarlane was redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor who crossed the line in 21:39 for 11th place.
"I'm pleased with my performance," said O'Connor. "I'm excited about where I ended up and I think there is definitely room for improvement throughout the rest of the season."
Redshirt junior Olivia Sydow (17th; 21:49), redshirt freshman Lindsey Clark (18th; 21:51) and redshirt junior Megan Rodgers (24th; 21:58) rounded out the top-25 finishers for Michigan State. Running unattached, junior Sara Kroll finished first in the women's race in 21:10.
"We're trying to sort ourselves out," said Director of Cross Country/Track and Field Walt Drenth. "We held a couple people out, Sara Kroll being one of them. She won the race, which bodes well for her. We did the same with Julia Otwell, who finished second for us. After that, I thought we did well. We lost our poise a little bit in the middle of the course. It's still early. We have about seven weeks before the conference meet, and I'm really pleased with the progress. I was really pleased with some of the young athletes. We've got a ways to go, but we've got optimism, that's for sure."
"I felt like we've been really stressing the pack running this year and I feel like it was a good starting point for us," said Wilson. "We had a few guys here and there running together, we were all working together. So for the first race, I think it was well done."
"I thought the men raced well," Drenth said. "I think we were a little passive early, but I thought they stayed dug into the race. I thought when the event got hard during the late stages of the race, I thought Alex Wilson and certainly Ben Carruthers did a really nice job of digging in and competing well."
Eastern Michigan's Terefe Ejigu took the men's individual title with a time of 24:28.
There were no team scores for this event.
The results from the high school and middle school races will continue to be posted throughout the day.