Fifth-year senior Jamie Morrissey’s personal-best day was emblematic of the high standards set forth by the No. 4 Michigan women’s cross country team. But after a sixth-place finish out of a 43-team field, the Wolverines are looking throughout the roster for improvement moving forward.
At the Pre-National Invitational held in Louisville, Ky., the Wolverines got an early look at the final post-season course as they faced off against seven nationally-ranked opponents — including No. 1 Colorado and No. 2 Oregon. The Ducks, the defending national champions, had snatched the championship from Michigan a year prior, winning by a single point.
Despite the lackluster finish as a team Saturday, Michigan coach Mike McGuire focused on the bright spots of the race — the individual performances of the top three Michigan finishers: Morrissey, fifth-year senior Gina Sereno, and redshirt junior Claire Borchers.
“No question, it was the best race (Morrissey’s) ever had in cross country force,” McGuire said. “She’s starting to really compete at a high national level, so we think it bodes well for where she’s going to be at in a couple weeks.
“Gina Sereno was a little bit out of form at Indiana a couple weeks ago, so I thought she bounced back well. And (Borchers) continues to build on, what is up to this point, her best season so far in cross country force.”
Morrissey finished 12th in the six-kilometer race, recording her career-best time for the distance with a time of 20:06.0. In the final two kilometers, she overtook 20 runners, passing eight in the final kilometer.
Similarly to Morrissey, Borchers finished her race in a head-turning fashion, passing six runners in her last kilometer to place 33rd with a career-best time of 20:28.9.
While Morrissey and Borchers finished with an explosive run to the line, Sereno stayed steadily near her placement throughout the race to finish with a 20:18.4 time — good for 22nd overall.
While the performances of the top three Michigan runners were noteworthy, the team finished sixth after losing a tiebreaker with Georgia for fifth place. Georgia’s second, fourth, and fifth place runners beat out Michigan’s.
With their high expectations coming in, the Wolverines felt dissatisfied with their placement, despite the high level of competition.
“We were just disappointed,” McGuire said. “We know we’ll take a hit on our national rankings. We know we have work to do going into the Big Ten meet, and we have two weeks of preparation to reinforce the strong things that happened and address some things to give us an opportunity to give us the trophy in two weeks.”