Spartans Conclude Regular Season at EMU Fall Classic
MSU’s younger runners with opportunity to gain experience.
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
Michigan State cross country will run at the annual EMU Fall Classic on Friday, Oct. 20 in Dexter, Michigan. The women’s 5,000 meter race will begin at 4:30 p.m., and the men’s 5,000 meter race follows at 5 p.m, held at the Hudson Mills Metropark.
“We really like it for that reason (as a race for younger athletes). It gives them a chance, for the younger ones, to go back to a distance that they were used to in high school,” Director of Cross Country, Walt Drenth, said. “They’re going to have a lot of confidence in that approach, especially for the freshmen, it’s something that they haven’t run really through the year. They’ve been preparing for longer distances. It’ll be fun for them to compare what kind of progress they’ve made.”
In the latest USTFCCCA rankings, both the men’s and women’s teams are ranked in the top-20 nationally. The men’s team is ranked No. 15, their highest ranking so far this season and up two spots from last week. The women’s team comes back into the rankings following their performance at the Nuttycombe, at No 20.
This race marks the final regular season meet for Spartan cross country and is a chance for some of the younger runners to garner valuable experience against other top athletes. Highlighting the field of competitors for MSU is No. 13 Michigan, who came just two points ahead of the Green and White at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational last weekend.
“(The meet) also gives them a chance to get into the spotlight a little bit in that they’ll be closer to the front group, and they’ll be involved in a little bit higher competition than they’re used to. They’re used to being behind some of the upperclassmen, so it’ll be a good opportunity for them,” added Drenth.
At last year’s Fall Classic, the Spartans notched several top finishes. On the women’s side, redshirt senior Aubrey Wilberding led the team with a second place finish (17:38.9). Junior Kennedy Beazley and sophomore Annie Fuller rounded on the top-10 finishes for the team, in fifth and seventh place, respectively. Junior Brian Kettle led the men’s side with a third place finish (15:24.0).
“(We’re looking for) growth. It’s kind of a jumping out point,” Drenth said. “We’ll start prepping for track here soon. For the most part, just to see what they’ve learned through the course of the fall, how they’ve trained and how they’ve applied the things that they’ve learned.”
In the team’s last time out, the Spartans raced to top finishes at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational on October 13. The men’s team placed 10th, with 271 points. Senior Clark Ruiz paced the team with a 15th place finish, and a PR 8K time of 23:55.8. On the women’s side, the squad finished 11th with 331 points. Freshman Maggie Farrell was the first Spartan across the finish line in 44th, setting a 6K PR at 20:35.4.
Following the EMU Fall Classic, MSU will embark on the postseason for Big Ten Championships on Sunday, Oct. 29 in Bloomington, Indiana.
“Right now, it’s excitement,” Drenth said of the team’s energy. “Coming off of Wisconsin, everybody sees the priority of staying well, being rested so we can go to Championship and be ready to go. I think there’s great anticipation for both groups just in terms of getting to the conference meet and seeing how we stack up, and moving forward through the whole thing there’s an expectation out of both groups to go to the Nationals. It’s good for us, it’s rewarding, but it also shows some signs of growth.”