By Sylvanna Gross, For the Daily
Published November 14, 2014
The Michigan men’s cross country team has consistently risen in the polls all season. That rise ended Friday, when the Wolverines came into the meet ranked No. 2 in the region but placed third.
Both Michigan State with 82 points and Wisconsin with 61 points finished ahead of Michigan with 94.
“The idea was to try to focus a little more on working as a team, feeding off Michigan State and Indiana,” said Michigan coach Kevin Sullivan. “I think we had a little bit of bad luck.”
Among the ailments was an ill redshirt junior Tony Smoragiewicz, who finished 49th overall at 31:19, and not one but two falls around the 6-K mark by redshirt junior Nick Posada and redshirt junior Mason Ferlic.
Despite this, the Wolverines still managed to have two runners in the top 10 individual finishers — sophomore Ben Flanagan (30:31) and Ferlic (30:25) — with redshirt junior August Pappas (30:38) coming in the top 20.
Flanagan earned his first All-Great Lakes Region honors with his 10th-place finish. Pappas, who finished 23rd in 2013, also picked up back-to-back All-Great Lakes Region recognition with his 18th-place finish today.
It was the first time redshirt freshman Aaron Baumgarten (30:54) and redshirt sophomore George Kelly (30:46) competed in the Great Lakes Regional Championship, but they kept pace and maintained a strong composure.
Rounding out the scoring was redshirt junior Nick Posada who came in 83rd at 32 minutes flat.
Despite the slightly disappointing race today, spirits aren’t low. All eyes are on the upcoming NCAA Championships.
“It’s not like you have to go (to the NCAA Regionals) for a win, that means you're having to run harder than you should,” Ferlic said. “It’s more about getting the job done.”
Sullivan seemed undeterred from today’s performance as well. He also didn’t seem to be too concerned about the direction of the team.
“We’re at a point in the season where we’re starting to taper so there’s not really much more we’re going to do,” Sullivan said.
But Ferlic thinks the team has a lot more in store.
“We’re saving it all for Nationals,” Ferlic said.
But that’s if the Wolverines even get an at-large bid. Each regional sends two automatic bids to the NCAA Championships, and 13 more at-large bids will be awarded Saturday when the full field is announced. Wisconsin and Michigan State earned the automatic bids from the Great Lakes Regional.
Now Michigan can only wait.