Spartans Take Top Finishes at Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational
MSU men earn highest finish since 2010; women highest since 2014
MADISON, Wis. - Michigan State cross country finished with top performances at the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational hosted by Wisconsin on Friday afternoon at the Thomas Zimmerman Championship Course. The No. 17 men's team finished in 10th place with 271 points, which is their highest finish at the event since 2010. The women's team came in 11th place with 331 points, their highest finish since 2014.
As a team, the women placed 11th with 331 points. The squad beat out six ranked opponents - No. 14 Indiana, No. 18 Iowa State, No. 22 Utah, No. 22 Georgetown, No. 27 Yale and No. 28 Virginia.
"I thought they did very well. I was really pleased with their poise and patience through the race," Director of Cross Country, Walt Drenth, said. "We started a little bit back. Really Maggie (Farrell), Erin (McDonald) and Jeralyn (Poe) were just outstanding in running through the field. But the other four, I thought they did a great job, too, just gradually making their way up, and they just stayed persistent and ran. We kept telling them, look, we're good. If we just run, run hard and race like crazy it'll go well. I'm pleased with the outcome. We've always grown from this meet. We've always gotten better, so I'm pretty excited about the way they handled themselves."
In the women's championship race, the Spartans set a number of career-best 6K times. Freshman Maggie Farrell paced the Spartans with a 44th place finish, crossing the finish line at 20:35.4, her career-best finish to date.
"(Farrell) was really good in high school, and she has started to become one of the better freshman. In a race like that, it's vital. We thought she would be like that, but you never know with freshmen, and it's rewarding for her and it's really important for our team, so it's pretty exciting."
Redshirt junior Erin McDonald came in 48th place with a time of 20:41.2, and redshirt sophomore Jeralyn Poe was right behind in 49th (20:41.3), with career-best times, respectively. Redshirt sophomore Lynsie Gram finished with a season-best 21:04.6. Redshirt freshman Lindsey Rudden crossed the finish line at 21:21.0, her first 6K in the Green and White. Senior Kelsie Schwartz came in at 21:27.3, a season-best time. Redshirt junior Jenny Rogers rounded out the Spartan women in the championship race, ending with a time of 21:33.6, a season-best.
The men's team finished in 10th with 271 points, just two points behind No. 20 UCLA and No. 25 Michigan, which tied for eighth place. The squad placed ahead of 10 ranked teams, including No. 13 Iona, No. 14 Iowa State, No. 15 Boise State, No. 16 Illinois, No. 18 Virginia, No. 21 Indiana, No. 28 Wisconsin and No. 30 Columbia.
"The guys are pretty good. They were only a couple points out of eighth place, and at one point in the race we were probably in the top six or seven," Drenth said. "We've got a little bit of work to do, but we learned a lot. This is a course that sort of suits us. It suits us more if it's 10,000 than 8,000 (meters), so a harder course I think will be better for us. If we run patiently, and we run really well late. I was pleased with their runs. It was a really good run for Clark (Ruiz). He sort of led. Ryan (Robinson), Max (Benoit) and Morgan (Beadlescomb) did an outstanding job of taking his lead and going to work. Jesse (Hersha) was probably out a little bit hot. He'll remedy that in the future, and we'll be just fine. If you're top 10, top 11 in this meet, you're giving yourself a great chance to go to nationals. We beat a lot of teams out of region that are ranked high in their region, and they rank well at the national level."
Redshirt senior Clark Ruiz led the way for the No. 17 men, finishing 15th with a career-best 8K time of 23:55.8. Sophomore Morgan Beadlescomb was the next Spartan to cross the finish line, coming in 40th with a time of 24:14.9, also a career-best. Junior Ryan Robinson came in 44th, with a career-best time of 24:17.9. Redshirt senior Max Benoit came close behind in 49th place with a season-best time of 24:20.1. Freshman Joe Riordan crossed the line at 24:54.2, and sophomore Jesse Hersha rounded out the men's team at 24:58.0, both season-bests, respectively.
In the open races, the women's team finished in second place with 60 points, highlighted by a seventh place finish from redshirt senior Bridget Blake (21:17.7). The men's team finished fifth with 96 points, and the first Spartan to cross the finish line was junior Justine Kiprotich in seventh (24:55.4).
"It's really important," Drenth said of the team's depth. "In case something happens to anybody, we know we can lean on some other people. We also are developing some young people that are going to step into roles next year. Frankly, one or two of them will step into a role before the season is out. We saw some really good progress from Bridget (Blake) and India (Johnson) on the women's side. Carlyn (Arteaga) and Lauren (Jenkins) continue to make a little bit of progress. On the guy's side, having Dan Sims and Justine (Kiprotich) and Zac (Wright-Fisher) ran pretty well. Those guys can help us, so knowing that we've got those people that can step in, because at the conference meet we go back to running nine. Being able to have those guys in there and give us a little more depth in case there's a margin for error, we can really do something."
Up next, the Spartans will run in their last regular season meet at the EMU Fall Classic in Dexter, Michigan, on Friday, Oct. 20.