Nov. 15, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men's and women's cross country teams concluded competition at the 2013 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships on Friday, Nov. 15 in Madison, Wis. The women finished third overall with 73 points, while the men, who entered the meet ranked seventh in the region, earned a fifth-place team finish with 151 points. In total, six Spartans earned All-Region honors.
"I thought we competed pretty well," said director of cross country/track Walt Drenth. "There's really only one prize and that is to advance. There's no advantage of being first or third, as long as you qualify."
Kicking off the meet in the men's 10,000-meter race, Caleb Rhynard placed fourth overall to lead MSU with a time of in 30:12. Recording the highest finish for a Spartan since 2006, Rhynard punched his individual ticket to Nationals. He was followed by Ben Carruthers in 28th place with a time of 31:14, while Alex Wilson clocked a time of 31:21 to finish 30th. Also scoring for the Spartans was David Madrigal with a time of 31:30 for 40th overall and Nick Soterin 49th place with a time of 31:41.
"I thought the guys competed the best they have since Minnesota," said Drenth. "We followed the race plan and ran with great confidence. We ran really well in the late stages of the race. Caleb is an automatic qualifier. Our guys have given themselves a legitimate chance to advance to the Nationals with an at-large bid. Now we just wait until tomorrow to find out. But I thought they made the effort. I thought Alex Wilson has been the key for us all year and he really came through. (Ben) Carruthers and David (Madrigal) did a nice job. I thought David did a really fantastic job of getting in line. I think Nick Soterwas outstanding. For a freshman to go in and run that well in that competitive of a field, I thought he did a really nice job and we needed him to. It's a hard race.""
Wisconsin's 12-straight winning streak came to an end with Michigan earning the overall team title with 70 points. Taking first place honors in the men's race was Indiana State's John Mascari with a time of 30:05.
On the women's side, Michigan State finished third overall with 73 points. The Spartans were led by Leah O'Connor, who clocked a time of 20:23 to finish fifth overall. Also earning a top-10 finish was Rachele Schulist, who was the eighth runner to cross the finish line in 20:30. She was followed by Katie Landwehr, who finished 17th with a time of 20:46. Rounding out the Spartan scorers was Lindsey Clark with a time of 20:48 for 19th place, while Megan Rodgers finished 24th with a time of 20:58.
"We knew it was going to be a three team race on the women's side," Drenth said. "At the 4K mark, we were well out of second place and we made a great run at both Michigan and Butler. We played a little defense at the 1,000-meter near the finish line but when you get defensive running, it doesn't go very well. But I thought from a character stand point, it was great because we learned a lot. They did a really nice job of keeping their poise. It's a competitive region. There's a strong chance that five or six teams could get out of our region. We'll get out; we'll probably be the first at-large team taken. From a cumulative points standpoint, there are no worries there. When you have five in the top-25, you have a good cross country team. We ran with a little more aggression and we got something out of it. If we make progress from here and everyone gets healthy, we'll be good next Saturday."
Michigan also took the women's team title with a total of 48 points, while Juli Accurso of Ohio earned an individual win with a time of 20:00.
On the women's side, Leah O’Connor, Rachele Schulist, Katie Landwehr, Lindsey Clark and Megan Rodgers all earned All-Region honors from the USTFCCCA for placing in the top-25 of the region. Caleb Rhynard received All-Region honors for the men's team. It is the second regional recognition for O'Connor, Clark and Rhynard as they were also honorees in 2012.
Both teams will await their fate to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships, which will be announced tomorrow. The Championships will be held in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23.