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Cross Country Teams Return to Louisville for NCAA Championships

Junior Julia Otwell will return to the NCAA Championships for the second-straight year competing at nationals for the Spartans.

Nov. 14, 2012

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men's and women's cross country teams will conclude the 2012 season as they return to Louisville, Ky., for the NCAA Championships on Saturday, Nov. 17. The meet will be held at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.  The women's race is slated to begin at 12 p.m. ET, followed by the men's at 1:15 p.m. ET.

"I'm really excited to have an opportunity for both teams to run in the NCAA Championship," said director of cross country/track and field Walt Drenth. "We did what we needed to do in order to qualify. Now it's just putting all of the pieces together and all of the pieces are prepared to run well at the national championships, so we'll have a good chance to do some damage and that's really exciting"

The women will be making their 12th straight NCAA Cross Country Championships appearance as a team, the longest active streak in the Big Ten Conference. This is also the 14th-consecutive year MSU has had at least one individual competing in the race.

The women qualified as a team after placing second at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Friday, Nov. 9. The men's team earned an at-large bid to the meet after placing fourth at the Regionals.

Individually, the top-40 runners in each race will receive All-America honors.

NCAA Championships History - Men
Saturday will mark the first time the Spartans have sent a team to the NCAA Cross Country Championships since 2009. As an individual, Patrick Grosskopf qualified in 2010. Overall, MSU has seen one runner crowned individual champion as Crawford Kennedy placed first in 1958 with a time of 20:07.1.

NCAA Championships History - Women
The women enter the championships looking for their first NCAA title program history. The highest the team has placed is fourth in 1981. MSU also has a fifth-place finish under its belt back in 2007. Former Spartan Nicole Bush's fifth-place showing at the 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships with a time of 20:14 is the best finish by an individual at the event.

Last year, the Spartans placed 16th with a team total of 386 points. Junior Sara Kroll recorded the Spartans' top individual finish when she crossed the line in 20:38, earning All-America honors with a 34th-place finish.

In addition to Kroll, classmates Julia Otwell, Leah O'Connor and Rachel McFarlane also competed at last year's championship meet.

Where We Rank
In the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) weekly poll, the women find themselves ranked 13th after placing second at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships.

After their fourth-place finish at the NCAA Regional meet, the men broke into the national rankings for the first time this season as they sit at No. 30.

Conference Honors
Kroll was named Big Ten Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year after winning the Big Ten
Championship, as announced by the conference office on Tuesday, Oct. 30. Additionally, redshirt senior Rachel McFarlane and redshirt freshman Caleb Rhynard as MSU's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipients.

Regional Recognition
Eight members of the Michigan State cross country teams received All-Region honors, as announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) office on Monday, Nov. 12.

On the men's side, redshirt sophomore Alex Wilson, redshirt freshman Caleb Rhynard and redshirt senior Josh McAlary each earned all-region honors after placing in the top-25 at the regional meet.

Finishing in the top-25 in the women's race, junior Sara Kroll, redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor, junior Julia Otwell, redshirt freshman Lindsey Clark and redshirt senior Olivia Sydow each earned all-region honors.

Last Time Out
The women placed second overall with 77 points, while the men finished fourth with 113 points at the 2012 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships on Friday, Nov. 9 in Madison, Wis. Leading MSU in the women's 6K race was junior Sara Kroll who finished third overall, tying her personal-best time of 20:12. Redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor was the next Spartan to cross the finish line in 20:41, good for 12th place. Classmate Julia Otwell was close behind as she finished 17th with a season-best time of 20:49.

In the men's 10Krace, Alex Wilson led the Spartans with a career-best time of 31:30, good for 17th place. Classmate Caleb Rhynard was next to cross the finish line, placing 21st with a time of 31:40. Close behind was senior Josh McAlary who finished in 31:42 for 22nd place.



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