November signifies championship season. As the trees turn shades of red, expectations are raised like the trophies the teams are in pursuit of.
The Michigan cross country team traveled to Columbus in search of a Big Ten championship, but instead found a pair of third place finishes.
On the men’s side, the Wolverines lost by eight points to Indiana and 22 to Wisconsin. Junior Devin Meyrer was the only top-10 finisher. He was followed by junior Jack Aho in 14th, junior Isaac Harding in 16th, junior Jacob Plaetink in 17th and senior Jordy Hewitt in 22nd to round out their top five. The difference between their first and fifth runner was one of the best spreads in the field, but wasn’t enough as the Badgers and Hoosiers both put two runners ahead of Meyrer.
The Michigan women fared similarly. Led by freshman Erika VanderLende, who finished in sixth, the Wolverines came in third, 26 points behind Wisconsin and 32 points behind Michigan State. Following a common trend all season, those who comprised their depth didn’t move up enough throughout the race, costing them a chance to capture a fourth straight Big Ten title.
The race saw the Wolverines come out strong in the first two kilometers but slowly fade away, never getting back into contention.
“We positioned our self pretty well early then kinda had a swoon in the middle of the race and never got ourselves back into it after that,” said Michigan coach Mike McGuire. “And in that regards (the meet) was a little disappointing.”
There were positives for Michigan still. Junior Kathryn House came in second for the team and had an All-Big Ten performance, coming in 10th.
“I thought our highlight was probably Kathryn House,” McGuire said. “She’s a fourth-year junior who’s worked her way up through hard work and racing the way she’s prepared.”
While neither team got the result they wanted, the season still has more in store. Michigan has already turned its attention to the regional meet, which will decide who has the opportunity to compete for a national championship at the end of November. The women have captured three straight regional titles. This year they’ll have a chance for redemption against the Spartans and Badgers.
“We just gotta regroup and it’s gonna take a much better effort than we had today,” McGuire said.
Most of the Wolverines’ goals are still ahead of them. There are still issues to shore up and they still have a few weeks to fix them. But, with regionals fast approaching, time is running out.