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Cross Country Travels to Illinois for Conference Championships

The Spartan women defend their 2010 Big Ten title on Sunday at Illinois.

Oct. 27, 2011

Big Ten Championships Central

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State cross country team opens its championship season on Sunday, Oct. 30, when it travels to the 2011 Big Ten Cross Country Championships in Urbana, Ill. Action begins at 11:45 a.m. ET with the men's race, followed by the women at 12:45 p.m. ET.

The meet will be contested on the campus of the University of Illinois at the University of Illinois Arboretum. Admission is free for the event.

Fans unable to attend the event live can enjoy the Big Ten Cross Country Championships on television tape delayed on Friday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET on BTN.

Big Ten Championships History - Men
The men have claimed 14 team titles overall. MSU enters the weekend looking for its first since winning two-straight in 1970 and 1971. Individually, the men have had four runners finish tops in the race. Gerald Young was the last Spartan to win the men's race when he finished first in 1960.

Last year, the men finished fifth as a team with a score of 141. The top individual finisher was Ben Miller who placed 16th overall with a career-best 28:08.4 mark. The Spartans look to make up for the loss of three of their top four runners with only five returning runners from 2010.

Big Ten Championships History - Women
The women enter the weekend looking for their fourth Big Ten team title, and second in as many years. MSU won the first sanctioned Big Ten Championships race in 1981. Overall, the Spartans have seen five individuals finish tops at the conference championships, most recently Emily MacLeod won last year's race in a career-best time of 19.53.8.

In 2010, the women placed tops as a team with 74 points, the highest winning score in conference history. Individually, Emily MacLeod was first in the race when she clocked in at 20:41. MSU returns all but two runners from last year's conference meet.



Where We Rank
In the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) weekly poll, the women find themselves ranked 15th after their strong performance at the Roy Griak Invitational. Regionally, the women continue to sit atop the Great Lakes Region standings, while also holding the best national ranking in the Big Ten Conference. This mark's the highest ranking for the women since Nov. 18, 2008, when MSU finished the season ranked No. 13 nationally.

On the men's side, MSU is currently sixth in the USTFCCCA Great Lakes regional rankings.

Conference Recognition
Junior Shaka Dukes and sophomore Olivia Sydow of the Michigan State cross country team were both been named Big Ten Cross Country Runner of the Week by the conference office on Tuesday, Oct. 11. Both individuals finished tops for the Spartans at the Michigan Intercollegiate Championships to earn All-Michigan honors.

Last Time Out
MSU concluded its pre-championship racing on Friday, Oct. 21 with the EMU Fall Classic in Dexter, Mich. The non-scored event was MSU's final race before the final three races of the season - the Big Ten Championships, the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and the NCAA Championships.

Elizabeth Watson placed fifth with a time of 18:10.14 to lead all MSU runners. Devan John followed Watson in sixth, finishing in 18:11.27. Meggan Freeland was the third Spartan to cross as she posted a time of 18:23.81.

Veronica Wilson and Klare Essad were the fourth and fifth to finish for the Green and White, respectively. Wilson posted an 18:41.03, while Essad finished in 18:41.03.

Unattached Lindsey Clark was the top female finisher, clocking in at 17:52.20.

Ben Miller and Caleb Rhynard were top two finishers in the men's 5k, running unattached. Miller clocked in at 15:16.83 while Rhynard finished in 15:19.42.

Travis Borchard was the top finisher in the Green and White, clocking in at 16:12.19. Stephen Humes finished a little over a second behind Borchard with his time of 16:13.09. Matt McSween rounded out the men when he crossed in 16:23.94.

Next Up
After a weekend off, the Spartans return to action on Saturday, Nov. 12, when they travel to Toledo, Ohio for the 2011 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships hosted by Toledo University. Last year, the MSU women placed first overall to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships for the 10th-straight time. MacLeod paced the women's squad with her first-place finish with a time of 20:42.7 to earn USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region Athlete of the Year, as well as All-Region honors, for the second consecutive year. For the men, the team finished fifth overall with a score of 148. Patrick Grosskopf was the top male runner, placing 13th with a time of 30:39.1 en route to earning a 2010 NCAA Championships appearance bid.

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