Women's Cross Country Places Second at NCAA Regional Championships
Spartans earn 14th-straight bid to NCAA Championships.
Nov. 9, 2012
MADISON, Wis. - The Michigan State cross country program concluded action at the 2012 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships on Friday, Nov. 9 in Madison, Wis. The women placed second overall with 77 points, while the men finished fourth with 113 points.
"We had a good Friday afternoon," said director of cross country and track & field Walt Drenth. "Both teams did a great job of sticking to the race plan and running through the field."
Leading MSU in the women's 6,000-meter race was junior Sara Kroll who finished third overall, tying her personal-best time of 20:12. Redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor was the next Spartan to cross the finish line in 20:41, good for 12th place. Classmate Julia Otwell was close behind as she finished 17th with a season-best time of 20:49.
Redshirt freshman Lindsey Clark was the fourth Spartan to finish in today's race, placing 21st overall with a time of 20:53. Rounding out the MSU scorers was redshirt junior Olivia Sydow, who finished in 20:56 for 24th overall. Redshirt senior Rachel McFarlane placed 26th with a time of 20:59, while redshirt junior Megan Rodgers crossed the finish in 21:19 for 36th place.
"We knew going in that it would be a three or four team race and we knew it was probably going to be between us and Michigan," said Drenth. "We just wanted to do what we needed to do in order to qualify. A couple of key people on the team, Lindsey Clark and Julia Otwell, really made some progress since the conference meet. I thought Olivia Sydow did a really nice job as well. If we put all the pieces together and all of the pieces are prepared to run well at the national championships, we'll have a good chance to do some damage and that's really exciting. I was really pleased with the way they ran. We really distanced ourselves from the third place team by doing the things we had planned to do late in the race."
Taking home the team crown was Michigan with 41 points. Julie Accurso from Ohio University finished tops in the race with a time of 20:07.
In the men's race, Alex Wilson led the Spartans with a career-best time of 31:30, good for 17th place. Classmate Caleb Rhynard was next to cross the finish line, placing 21st with a time of 31:40. Close behind was senior Josh McAlary who finished in 31:42 for 22nd place.
"I thought Alex Wilson was phenomenal today with the progress that he has made," Drenth said. "The whole group just ran a great team race. They ran with passion and it was really fun."
Sophomore David Madrigal finished 26th overall with a time of 31:50. Less than one-hundredth of a second behind was junior Ben Miller, crossing the finish in 31:51 for 27th place. A pair of sophomores rounded out the Spartan runners as Ben Carruthers finished in 32:16 for 47th place while Drake Veitenheimer placed 74th with a time of 32:48.
"We talked about what was doable," said Drenth. "We talked about the idea that we really thought we could be in the top-four to give ourselves a chance to qualify for nationals. They followed and stayed with the race plan. We weren't even mentioned the first time they called out the running score. But we just kept moving through the field. We had a few key teams in our sights and we just did a phenomenal job of staying after them. We just ran really well. It was a great demonstration of their poise and their will was really part of it. It was a good example of what they could do all along. I'm really excited for them."
Wisconsin claimed the team crown with a score of 43 points. Mohammed Ahmed of the Badgers clocked in the fastest time in the men's race, finishing in 30:37.
With MSU's top-two finish today at the NCAA Regionals, the women have qualified for the NCAA Championships, held Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky., for the 14th-straight season, the longest active streak in the Big Ten. The at-large bids will be announced Saturday, Nov. 10 at noon.