There are generally two types of runners: strength runners and rhythm runners. Strength runners are more adept at running in tough conditions, while rhythm runners excel at getting into a groove on the track.

Senior Erin Finn considers herself a rhythm runner, but this weekend she showed that she is always up to the challenge of a difficult cross country course. 

Finn and the No. 10 Michigan women’s cross country team traveled with the men’s program to Minneapolis this weekend for the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday. The 6,000-meter event was held on Minnesota’s Les Bolstad Golf Course and previewed both the competition and the course for the Big Ten Championships in a little over a month. The ground was muddy and worn down after several days of rain, adding to an already arduous course. 

Finn was the Wolverines’ top runner this past weekend, finishing second with a time of 21:01.0, a full 11 seconds behind Brenna Peloquin of Boise State — but, typical of Finn, she isn’t dwelling on that fact. 

“Whenever you go into a race and give it what you have, you can’t be disappointed, whether you finish first, second or hundredth,” Finn said. “I’m proud I went out there and fought hard. The runner from Boise State might be the best runner in the nation right now, and I held my own even as a rhythm runner.

“I’m proud that I persevered. I’m excited to keep working and get back out there.”

The Wolverines took 12 athletes to the event, competing against 36 schools, including ranked programs like No. 6 Boise State and conference peers such as No. 9 Michigan State, No. 13 Penn State and No. 25 Minnesota, among others. 

The Wolverines took fifth place with a total of 155 points, trailing top finisher Portland by 81. Michigan finished third out of seven conference opponents competing, behind Penn State and Michigan State. 

“Now we have a benchmark of where we stand at this point to the other two leaders in the Big Ten, Penn State and Michigan State,” said Michigan coach Mike McGuire. “We finished third among our conference, so that’s a disappointment but also motivation.”  

Added Finn: “We have a lot of room for growth, but it was a nice kick in the butt. This was our first competitive 6K, so it’s promising that even unprepared we’re still on par with our rivals.” 

Redshirt junior Gina Sereno was the second Michigan athlete to cross the finish line, taking 25th with a time of 22:22.4. Next up was her classmate, Jamie Morrissey, who finished 29th, fourteen seconds after Sereno. 

Though she finished 42nd, just barely missing the top-40 mark, freshman Madeline Trevisan made an impression on McGuire in the Wolverines’ third outing of the year.

“(Trevisan) makes our team better,” McGuire said. “There’s no question. She puts us in a position to make our team better. I thought she showed great competitive instincts throughout the race.” 

Michigan will have a chance to show its week-by-week improvement next weekend in Louisville for the Greater Louisville Classic — though the men’s team will not be joining this time. As McGuire explains it, the programs are “separated but not estranged,” meaning that it is always an added benefit to have the extra support system. 

As Finn explains it: “The guys bring a new element of fun. Plus, they always find the good restaurants.” 

The women’s team is ready for the challenge to push through and focus on the upcoming championship season, starting with a return to the same Minneapolis course for the Big Ten Championships. 

“This was very beneficial,” McGuire said. “We’ll be out there next month and the conditions will hopefully be better — though there might be snow — and the field size will be smaller. But appreciating and familiarizing ourselves with the topography and the nuances there was really important.”

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