EAST LANSING, Michigan -- The Michigan State cross country teams travel to Madison, Wisc., on Friday, November 11, for the NCAA Great Lakes Regionals with both teams looking to secure team berths to the NCAA Championships.
Wisconsin will host the Great Lakes Regional at the Thomas Zimmer Championship course for the fifth consecutive season. The women's 6,000-meter race is slated to take off at 12 p.m. ET, while the men's 10,000-meter run begins at 1 p.m. ET.
There will be 34 teams competing in the women's 6,000-meter race, four of which are ranked nationally in the Top-30 by the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). 31 teams will be competing on the men's side, and five of the teams are ranked nationally in the top-30. "Our objective and our primary goal is to go to nationals, and that is what we are setting our sights on this Friday," said Director of Cross Country Walt Drenth. "We are going to put the best seven people on the course that we think will give us the best chance to make the nationals."
The MSU men's team enters the week ranked No. 3 in the region, and the women are slated at No. 4, while both teams jumped up in the USTFCCCA national poll rankings this week. After an impressive second place finish at the Big Ten Championships, the men who were previously ranked 29th now sit 18th nationally. The women who were ranked 27th last week are now ranked 22nd in the nation concluding their fifth place finish at the conference meet last weekend.
"We haven't changed anything up these last couple weeks," remarked Drenth. "Since the conference meet we have just been trying to get ourselves back to normal. We have tailored our workouts and people have been working out based on how they feel, and we are just trying to get them back in sync."
The last time out for the women's team, senior Alexis Wiersma paced the way for Michigan State at the Big Ten Championships racing to a fifth place finish, clocking in at 21:07.9. Her fifth place finished earned her First Team All-Big Ten. Senior Rachele Schulist was the second Spartan to finish, crossing the line at 21:18.1. She finished in ninth place, to add her to the Second Team All-Big Ten. Freshman Jeralyn Poe made the next Spartan appearance, racing to a 17th place finish with a season-best time of 21:36.5.
"We need the women to show consistency. Consistency is the key. We have to Ali and Rachele be up front, but we also have to have a pretty good 1-7 split. We need everyone after Ali and Rachele to be close together, and intent on being in the top 25 in the race."
On the men's side, the team raced to a second place finish at the Big Ten Championships, a feat that hasn't been accomplished by the men's team since 1998.
Senior Sherod Hardt led the Spartans way, finishing the 8,000 meter course in 24:43.9 for a second-place finish and First Team All-Big Ten accolades. Redshirt freshman Ryan Robinson was the second Spartan to cross the finish line as the11th-place runner on a time of 24:56.1, a season best. With the finish, Robinson was named Second Team All-Big Ten.
The men had all their top five scoring finishers in the top 20. Junior Clark Ruiz took 15th, freshman Morgan Beadlescomb finished 18th, and senior Nick Soter rounded out the top 20 with his 20th-place finish.
"We need consistency out of our guys. I think we just have to behave like we did at the conference meet, we have to think forward, we have to play offense the entire time, we have to be patient early, and keep our poise. If we run well late, if we are together the last 3,000 meters we will have a good chance to advance as a team," said Drenth.