DEXTER, Mich. — It took 46.6 seconds for the next competitor to catch up to Erin Finn at the 5,000-meter Michigan Open, the first race of the season.
The non-scoring event consisted of 27 athletes, five of whom ran unattached. It was the first competition setting outside of practice for the No. 9 women’s cross country team, which allowed coaches to see areas where the runners could use work, and help determine which individuals would be redshirted.
Finn, now in her senior season, dominated the race as an unattached athlete, finishing with a time of 16:44. The next runner, graduate transfer Kira Garry, crossed the finish line at 17:31.
But, it was junior Avery Evenson who really impressed coaches and spectators at the event. After transferring to Michigan last year and sitting out the season with an injury, Evenson competed in the Michigan Open as her first race in uniform. She finished the race with a time of 17:43, and was the top attached finisher for Michigan, claiming third place.
“It was definitely a good meet, a nice rust-buster for everyone,” Evenson said. “We just got back from camp, so we’re all coming in with some tired legs, but I was still really pleased. Coach told us to try and run with our subgroups that we’ve been practicing with, and I think there were some packs that were doing really well with that.”
If packing up was a main priority for the Wolverines, then runners three through six accomplished just that. Just nine seconds separated Evenson from redshirt junior Jamie Morrissey, who took sixth with a time of 17:52. Redshirt junior Gina Sereno took fourth with a time of 17:50 and redshirt sophomore Ellie Leonard claimed fifth (17:51).
Madeline Trevisan, an unattached freshman, topped the incoming class with a time of 17:54 and claimed seventh place. Runners eight through 10 included redshirt sophomore Claire Borchers in eighth (17:58), graduate student Erika Fluehr at ninth (17:58) and redshirt junior Jaimie Phelan at 10th (18:07).
Despite the packing effort demonstrated by the middle runners, Michigan coach Mike McGuire would still like to see more of it throughout the lineup.
“To critique today, I would just say that we could have packed up a little bit more, to have everyone running controlled and side by side,” McGuire said. “But overall I thought we had a good, solid opener.”
With the first race out of the way, Michigan has an entire season ahead to focus on packing together. But even if the majority of the Wolverines do accomplish that, there’s a good possibility one runner will still be about 46 seconds ahead.