The Michigan women’s cross country team ended its season at the NCAA Championship on Saturday with a sixth-place finish, matching its No. 6 national ranking. The result marked the Wolverines’ 12th top-10 finish at the championship meet, with 11 of them falling under the guidance of coach Mike McGuire.
The team went into the race striving for a podium finish, expecting to work hard and push for a spot in the top three.
Michigan junior Erin Finn, however, wasn’t expecting to lose her shoes.
Shortly after the 2K mark in the 6,000-meter race, Finn was clipped by a runner behind her, and as a result, lost both of her shoes and socks. Despite the setback, Finn continued to run barefoot.
“It speaks volumes about how tough she really is, because the easy way out would have been to walk off of the course,” McGuire said. “We were not running on a pristine golf course. Part of it was on a gravel road, part of it was traversing sidewalks. She wasn’t over at Grand Haven walking on the beach.”
Finn placed 19th with a final time of 20:10:2 and was awarded All-American honors for the second time in her career. Finn is the seventh Michigan runner to be awarded multiple All-American honors.
Senior Shannon Osika was the next Michigan athlete to cross the finish line, placing 53rd with a time of 20:33.2. Osika, and fifth-year senior Anna Pasternak, who placed 120th with a time of 20:59.3, ended their cross country careers at the NCAA Championships.
“Shannon has been a mainstay in the lineup for the four years she’s been here,” McGuire said. “Anna is someone who has progressed and ran in her first Championship last year and really had an outstanding fifth year this year. They’ve impacted us race-wise, and they’ve impacted us with their presence as being good teammates. I’ve just got good thoughts on what both of them have contributed to the program.”
Gina Sereno, a redshirt sophomore, placed third among Wolverine finishers at 90th place with a time of 20:47.2. Redshirt sophomore Jaimie Phelan followed closely behind, crossing the finish line just 2.8 seconds after Sereno but placing 100th.
Sophie Linn and Jamie Morrissey, also redshirt sophomores, made their NCAA Championship debuts on Saturday, placing 145th and 180th, respectively.
“Sophie is a much better runner than she was last year,” McGuire said. “Jaime is a little more of a middle-distance specialist, so she’s still adapting to racing a 6K, but they got their feet wet, so we expect an improvement on what they can do.”
The NCAA Championships capped a strong season. The Wolverines were the runners-up at the Big Ten Championships and brought home a Great Lakes Regional title, to go along with the sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
“The team has depth,” Finn said. “We have a lot of girls who can be in the top five, or the top 10, and that really shows, because you can’t count on everyone having their best day every time. But when you have a lot of girls who are really good, you don’t have to have your best day every time, and you can still perform well because you know that someone has your back.”