In cross country, the entire season comes down to one day. The months of training, the many races and the countless miles all can lead to a euphoric climax or a feeling of missed opportunity. The Michigan women’s cross country team got the latter.
The Wolverines came into Saturday’s meet ranked eighth in the country and with a shot to finish on the podium. The day didn’t go as planned, though, as they finished 13th, failing to capture their seventh top-10 finish in the last 10 years.
“You always want to try and come out of here ranked better than you were going in,” said Michigan coach Mike McGuire. “And in that regard, we didn’t meet our objective.”
Michigan’s biggest problem was its rough start. At the two-kilometer mark the Wolverines found themselves in 10th and had only freshman Erika VanderLende running near the front of the race. Their second through fifth runners were packed up near the 100th-place mark. For reference, the teams vying for a top-five spot all put four to five runners ahead of the Wolverines’ second runner, junior Kathryn House, who McGuire said “was compromised” coming in, as she had a cold. Junior Maddy Trevisan — a team leader throughout the year— also didn’t have the best performance, she finished in 145th.
One of Michigan’s bright spots was VanderLende. She was the third-highest finishing freshman, coming in 25th and earning All-American honors.
With Saturday being the last race of the season, this also meant one last time for the seniors to represent the block ’M’ on their chest.
“(The seniors) would’ve liked to go out on a bit of a higher note,” McGuire said. “We’ll measure it off the body of work and the season that we had, it still was solid. But it wasn’t reflective of the trend we made going forward out of the regional meet, and in that regard it was a bit of a disappointment.”
While disappointed with the outcome, McGuire also talked about the season as a whole being what they should focus on. And for good reason, as the Wolverines took second place in the regional meet and third in the Big Ten meet. And, while their lofty goals at the beginning of the season never materialized, they’ll still have a top-15 finish to look back on and a breakout season from VanderLende, who could be one of the sport’s brightest stars for years to come.
McGuire also talked about the impact Trevisan had on the team and what she meant to the program.
“Our captain Maddy Trevisan did a great job,” McGuire said. “Her impact on the program has been long-felt and we’re gonna miss her.”
So, in a sport where one day can define an entire season for good or for worse, McGuire made sure to remember the journey that led up to that final day and reflect on everything, good and bad.
“Overall, it was a pretty good season,” McGuire said. “Just not a great day.”