East Lansing, Michigan -- The Michigan State men's cross country team earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships on Friday, Nov. 11, taking second at the Great Lakes Regional at the Thomas Zimmer Championships Course in Madison, Wisconsin, with a team score of 81 points. The Spartan women finished fourth as a team with a tally of 97.
Senior Rachele Schulist claimed her third All-Regional honor, finishing fourth with a season-best time of 19:59.2. Schulist was one of just five runners to complete the 6,000-meter course under the 20-minute barrier.
Fellow seniors Alexis Wiersma and Shelby Jackson also earned All-Region plaudits, completing the course in 20:25.5 and 20:30.4, respectively, for 16th and 19th. This was Wiersma's third time inside the region's top-25, while Jackson has been All-Region in back-to-back seasons.
"I thought we were pretty solid. I thought we had some really good places for a number of our runners," said Director of Cross Country Walt Drenth. "Starting with Rachele, she was phenomenal as she bounced back from two weeks ago. I thought Shelby Jackson had the best race of her career. Karrigan Smith ran well, and I thought Jenny Rogers ran incredibly well too. I don't think we had any one run bad. Unfortunately Alexis Wiersma was coming off of an injury, but her rest this past week will be good for her at our final meet."
On the men's side, senior Sherod Hardt recorded MSU's top finish of the afternoon, racing to third over the 10K course with a time of 30:23.2. Hardt led Michigan State at the event a year ago, improving on the seventh-place finish. He paced a trio of Spartan harriers in the top-15, as sophomore Ryan Robinson and junior Clark Ruiz claimed 14th and 15th place, respectively. Robinson turned in an effort of 30:38.8, while Ruiz crossed shortly behind in 30:39.2.
"Sherod Hardt has been our rock all for us this fall, and he has just gotten better and better. He has been a phenomenal leader his entire career, and to have him in these last couple meets has just been phenomenal. He is growing every week, he is showing top performances, I am proud of him," said Drenth.
Senior Nick Soter rounded out the Green and White's All-Regional runners on the men's side, clocking a 31:04.0 to finish 22nd. The four All-Regional honorees ties the program high for the fifth time in MSU history and third-consecutive year.
"Clark Ruiz ran outstanding, as did Nick Soeter and Ryan Robinson. Those guys were really critical. We moved up a good amount of places from the 8,000 meter to this finish, and I couldn't be more proud. They did a really great job. We didn't have one bad race, and we had all seven guys really pulling their own weight," said Drenth.
In the women's 6K, freshman Karrigan Smith narrowly missed the top 25, finishing in 27th with a time of 20:45.6. Smith was the fourth freshmen to cross the line. Sophomore Jenny Rogers ran a 20:48.2, while freshman Jeralyn Poe clocked a 21:16.6. Junior Aubrey Wilberding turned in a performance of 21:58.0.
Michigan won the women's title race with a score of 61, led by senior Erin Finn's first-place effort. Wisconsin claimed the men's competition, amassing 51 points. Badger senior Malachy Schrobilgen won the individual crown with a 30:22.2, crossing with teammate junior Morgan McDonald.
The women will await the selection process for an at-large bid to the 2016 NCAA Championships on November 19 in Terre Haute, Indiana, while the men have earned an automatic bid for the third-straight year and fourth time under Drenth. The field for the championships will be announced on Saturday, November 12, by 3 p.m. on NCAA.com.
I think we saw good results out of both groups. I think both teams have a very good chance to be competitive at the nationals. We are still waiting to see if the women will make it, but I have confidence they will make it and both teams will compete at a high level once they are there.