Oct. 12, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State cross country program finished action at the 2012 Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis., as well as the Jayhawk Invitational in Muskegon, Mich., on Friday, Oct. 12.
"As a team, we met our objectives," said Director of cross country and track & field Walt Drenth. " We needed to see teams from outside of the region. We came to the events to get better. I think we did well. The Wisconsin Invite had a highly competitive field and I thought we made some progress. That was our goal."
Overall, the women placed ninth among a field of 49 squads with 420 points. The Spartans finished ahead of 10 squads currently ranked in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's weekly top-30 poll. Junior Sara Kroll paced the Green and White with a career-best time of 20:05, good for 20th overall.
Finishing second for MSU and 48th overall was redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor with a time of 20:27. Senior Olivia Sydow was next to cross the finish line for the Spartans. Sydow stopped the clock in 20:43 for 82nd overall, while fellow senior Rachel McFarlane finished in 20:51 for 103rd.
"Sara Kroll looks like one of the better people in the country; she did a really nice job," Drenth said. "Leah O'Connor did a nice job. She competed really well and she is just really learning to run cross country. She is someone we are really leaning on now and can be one of the top runners in the conference. Olivia Sydow did a fantastic job and really saved us today. She assumed a responsible role and really a made a difference today."
Freshman Lindsey Clark narrowly edged out teammate junior Megan Rodgers. Clark placed 167th overall with a time of 21:10, while Haines followed with a time of 21:22 for 199th. Senior Katie Haines rounded out the Spartan runners with her time of 23:22 for 321st.
Winning the team crown with a score of 109 was Iona. Rounding out the top-5 was Stanford (181 points), Arizona (242 points), Washington (252 points) and Cornell (264 points). Laura Hollander of California Polytechnic turned in the top individual performance with a time of 19:33.
On the men's side, MSU finished 35th overall in the 8,000-meter race paced by sophomore David Madrigal with his time of 24:27 to finish 137th overall. Senior Josh McAlary was next to cross the finish line for the Spartans with a time of 24:28 in 147th. Seconds behind McAlary was freshman Caleb Rhynard, who placed 156th with a time of 24:31, while sophomore Alex Wilson finished 165th in 24:34. Rounding out MSU's runners were sophomore's Ben Carruthers (24:50, 211th), Drake Veitenheimer (24:59, 229th) and senior Brian Hankins (25:52, 285th).
"I felt we got better," noted Drenth on the men's performance. "But we've got to keep getting better. We came here to be in the top half and we've got to make progress over the next four weeks. In assessing who we are and where we were two weeks ago, we are making progress, but you've got to keep raising the bar."
Stanford took home the top team crown with a score of 135 points. Iona was a close second with 145 points, while Oklahoma took third place with 166. Texas (267 points) finished fourth, and Arkansas and Columbia (308 points) rounded out the top-five teams. Lawi Lalang of Arizona clocked the fastest individual time in the race with a finish of 23:03.
Michigan State also had a strong showing in-state at the Jayhawk Invitational hosted by Muskegon Community College. The women finished first overall with a team score of 16 points, while the men did not receive a team score as they ran unattached.
Freshman Alexa Rumsey won the women's 5,000-meter race as she broke a course record as she ran a personal-best time of 17:52. Close behind Rumsey was redshirt junior Meggan Freeland who also ran a career-best time of 18:10 to finish second overall. Redshirt sophomore Abbey Kelto was just three seconds behind Freeland, as she placed third overall with a time of 18:13.
The men stayed in the front half of the pack in the 8,000-meter race. Junior Ryan Konen finished first overall with a course record setting time of 24:13. Following Konen, freshman Nick Soter crossed the finish in second place with a time of 24:20, while freshman Garret Zuk notched a third-place finish with a time of 24:40.
"It's a sign of progress for both programs that you are redshirting your young guys and they can make that kind of progress," said Drenth of the Jayhawk Invite. "I think we met our objectives at both events today and hopefully we can get better from here."
The Spartans will travel to Dexter, Mich., on Friday, Oct. 19 for the EMU Fall Classic hosted by Eastern Michigan. Competition is slated to begin at 4:30 p.m. at Hudson Mills Metropark.