The No. 8 Michigan women’s cross country team crossed the finish line of its season Saturday, finishing ninth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships with 295 points.
In the 31-team competition, fifth-year seniors and All-Americans Jamie Morrissey and Gina Sereno anchored the Wolverines, both finishing in the top-30 individually in the tight six-kilometer race. For the third year in a row, the Wolverines finished as one of the event’s top-10 finishers, ending the race just ahead of Wisconsin, and only 31 points behind sixth-place Boise State.
“They were inspired and focused all year,” said Michigan coach Mike McGuire. “I think we set out and achieved most of our goals. You can set goals and work to those goals and we did that all year. They displayed a good work ethic and were there for each other throughout the year.”
Next year, Michigan will lose its two All-Americans. Without the dynamic duo, the Wolverines will miss a steadily improved runner in Morrissey and one of the best runners in program history in Sereno. Sereno specifically ran strong in the beginning, hitting the two-kilometer mark in the leaders’ pack, but gradually drifting to a 27th-place finish.
For the duration of the race, the Wolverines’ fate was not in doubt, due in large part to the underclassmen on the team. Michigan started the race seventh, fell to eighth at the four-kilometer mark, and ended ninth. Junior Claire Borchers and sophomore Madeline Trevisian both placed in the top-100 of the race and should be in prime position to be key contributors on the team, along with other familiar faces and new blood.
“We’ll have several athletes that ran this meet that will be returning next year, so this will be a great growing experience,” McGuire said. “With graduating our first two runners as fifth-year seniors, someone has to assume the new role. That (search) will begin tomorrow.
“We got a solid season from Maddie and (junior) Avery Evenson, and Claire was hugely improved over last year. Haley Meier, a fifth-year senior who is eligible for a 6th year, has shown a lot of growth. … We got some people who are waiting in the wing and some incoming people too.”
Each runner will continue to develop over the winter, and many of the cross country runners will compete in the indoor track season, trying to sustain Michigan’s streak of top-10 finishes.
“The strength is depth and the weakness, which we hope to address and resolve through growth, is that at this level, we don’t have an established front-runner,” McGuire said. “That’s going to be the biggest question moving forward.”
With a new recruiting class and continued growth, Michigan should find an answer to that question soon.