EAST LANSING, Mich. -
Michigan State cross country hosts the annual Auto-Owners Spartan Invitational on Friday, Sept. 15 at Forest Akers East Golf Course. The women's 6,000 meter race will kick-off the meet at 11:40 a.m. followed by the men's 8,000 meter race at 12:15 p.m.
"It'll progress us in a number of ways because we go to the full distance for women and Big Ten Championship distance for the men," said Director of Cross Country, Walt Drenth. "It'll be a chance to integrate everybody, because we'll run nearly everyone. If they're well, we're going to go. It'll be nice to see how the team dynamics unfold, how they stick up for each other and run as a group. It'll be a lot bigger field of competitors, so the dynamics of running in a big group are going to change a little bit, too. There are some things at stake here. It'll be nice to see."
The Spartans began the 2017 cross country season at the 32nd annual Jeff Drenth Memorial Race on Friday, Sept. 1. Redshirt freshman Lindsey Rudden set the tone for Michigan State, coming in first individually with a time of 17:18.7. On the men's side, redshirt freshman Brayden Law ended the race in third place (15:08.8). In the second meet of the year, the Spartans return to East Lansing for the only home event this season.
"It's always nice to run at home," Drenth said. "This meet has afforded us that. It's a great cross country course and it's a great spectator course. It gives people that wouldn't normally have a chance to see our athletes run. Here it's even more personal, because not only family members, but also friends and members of the MSU community will come out and watch."
The Michigan State men's cross country team was ranked at No. 25 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll on Sept. 11, dropping two spots. The women's team came in at No. 17 in the poll, moving down one spot.
MSU hosts the Spartan Invitational for the 37th year. Thirty-six teams will participate in the collegiate race. The invitational will also include high school and middle school runners, who will compete in a total of 15 events.
"It's really an honor to host it," Drenth said. "We couldn't do it without the help of Andy Marsh and the Playmakers organization. They come out and do an immense amount of work for us. A lot of volunteers and people come out to help. The staff in general here from sports medicine, ticketing, police department - everybody comes together because this is quite an event. We'll have in the neighborhood of 20,000 people out there during the course of the day. That's a lot of people, and it's a lot of moving parts. It's an honor, and it's something we take a lot of pride in. It's turned into one of the bigger events in the country."
Following the Spartan Invitational, the cross country team will travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the 32nd annual Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 23.