The No. 25 Michigan men’s cross country team showed up this past Saturday morning in Stillwater, Okla., eager to make its mark on the national championship race. But the Wolverines could not meet their goals, ending their season with a whimper instead of a bang.
Michigan placed 29th out of 31 teams in the ten kilometer race with a team total time of 2:34:20.4 and a team average of 30:52.08 — a far cry from the result that the Wolverines had hoped for after placing second in the Big Ten championship and third in the Great Lakes regional.
“I don’t think there’s anybody on our team that’s satisfied with 30th in the country,” Michigan coach Kevin Sullivan said.
In Stillwater, the Wolverines had to deal with a variety of challenging terrain, from hills to overly flat areas.
“I’d say really from like the five to seven (kilometer mark), it’s not very hilly. It’s pretty flat and it’s a tough course and at that point you’re kind of pretty tired,” senior Tom Brady said. “It’s hard to really stay strong when you have to run really quick that next two (kilometer) and that’s kinda where the races are made.”
Despite the challenges of the course, Brady was still the leader of the team, placing 60th out of 255 individually with a time of 29:51.1 — a career best. For Brady, the race was an impressive statement considering he was out with an injury for eight weeks this season.
“I think injury is something you never wanna deal with,” Brady said. “But today I got to help here for the team and be there when it matters most.”
Other notable runners from Michigan included junior Zach Stewart who placed 153rd overall with a time of 30:37.8, as well as senior Arjun Jha who placed 161st overall with a time of 30:42.7.
“I think the other ones that probably deserve some kudos are Arjun Jha, who’s our third runner on the men’s side.” Sullivan said. “He took a pretty hard fall early in the race, so I think the results are not really reflective of the effort.”
The Wolverines finished this race below their ranking while their Big Ten rival, Wisconsin, finished as the sixth place team with a total time of 2:28:19.30. The team that won the championship overall was Northern Arizona with a total time of 2:26:02.00, and the individual runner that won the championship was Charles Hicks of Stanford clocking in at 28:43.6.
After ending its season with a disappointing showing at the NCAA championship, Michigan will be hungry for more moving forward, even as it has to replace the losses it will face this offseason.