MSU Cross Country to Compete At NCAA Regionals
Nov. 14, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State cross country teams return to Madison, Wis., on Friday, Nov. 15 for the 2013 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships. The meet will be held at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course with the men’s 10,000-meter race set to begin at 1 p.m. ET, with the women’s 6,000-meter race to follow at 2:15 p.m. The top-two schools in each race will receive an automatic bid to next week’s NCAA Championships.
“This meet is the only way to get to nationals,” said director of cross country/track & field Walt Drenth. “It’s the second of three championship events. If we run well here, we get to run at the NCAA Championship and that’s our objective. A lot happens tomorrow, not only here, but nationally that will help determine whether they make the NCAA Championships. But it starts on this course with us and we have to be at our best. We’re ready to be our best. They seem healthy. The training room has done a great job with us, but the kids have done a great job of keeping themselves well.”
NCAA Regionals History - Women
“We’re probably a little clearer on where we are at as a group,” said Drenth. “I think they’ve done a pretty good job of putting the pressure behind them. They seem a lot more relaxed. I think we’re practicing really well. We seem to be maintaining our health; that’s vital. There is a number of really good teams in this region. I wouldn’t be surprised if six or seven teams ultimately make it out of this region based on the way the region has performed against national competition. We’re not taking anything for granted, that’s for sure. We’re going to go in there and race as well as we can.”
Last year, Sara Kroll led the Spartans with a personal-best time of 20:12, good for third-place overall. Leah O’Connor finished 12th overall with a time of 20:41 to lead MSU to a second-place team finish. As a result of the team's success, Michigan State earned an automatic bid to its 14th-consecutive NCAA appearance, the longest-active streak in the Big Ten.
NCAA Regionals History - Men
“We’ve got to be a little more engaged, particularly in the last half of the race,” Drenth said. “I would expect Caleb will have a pretty good shot to make it as an individual. If we back it up and our juniors run the way they’re practicing and we have some support from a couple of the younger guys, then I think we’ll have a decent chance to advance. We’ve also had some success on this course. Last year, we ran really well. 10,000-meters suits us. I’m excited to see where our upper-class leadership takes us tomorrow. Our fortune will rise and fall with what they do and how they approach this. If they are mature, excited and locked in, we’ll be pretty good.”
Where We Rank
On the men's side, MSU is ranked seventh in the USTFCCCA Great Lakes regional rankings.
Last Time Out
O'Connor clocked a 20:56.90 to cross first for the Spartans and earn First Team All-Big Ten honors. Finishing fifth overall, Katie Landwehr was also named to the First Team All-Big Ten as she posted a time of 21:04.4. Lindsey Clark crossed the finish line in 21:12.30 to finish ninth overall and earn Second Team All-Big Ten honors.
Rounding out the Spartan scorers was Rachele Schulist, who in her first conference championship race finished 12th with a time of 21:24.60 to also be named to the Second Team All-Big Ten, followed by Megan Rodgers recording a time of 21:27.20 for a 15th-place finish.
Caleb Rhynard led the men's side with a fourth-place overall finish, posting a time of 24:21.00 to earn First Team All-Big Ten honors. It is the highest individual finish by a Spartan since Ryan Taylor finished second overall in 1998.
Crossing the finish line first for the MSU women at the Roy Griak Invitational, redshirt freshman Rachele Schulist was named Big Ten Cross Country Co-Athlete of the Week on Oct. 1. Her ninth-place time of 21:07 in the women's 6,000-meter race helped lead her team to a runner-up team finish among a field of 28 teams, 10 of which were ranked in the top-30 of the USTFCCCA poll.
Redshirt junior Leah O'Connor and redshirt sophomore Caleb Rhynard of the Michigan State cross country team swept the Big Ten Cross Country Athlete of the Week honors on Sept. 17. Both individuals earned their first weekly honors after finishing tops for the Spartans with an outstanding first race of the season when MSU hosted the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational.
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