Wolverines finish first in Urbana at Big Tens preview

By Emily O'Donnell, Daily Sports Writer
Published September 18, 2011

Some may consider cloudy and cool weather to be a downer on a Friday afternoon, but for the Michigan women’s cross-country team it is warmly welcomed on the day of a race against Big Ten rivals.

The Wolverines finished first against Illinois and Wisconsin at this weekend’s Orange & Blue Preview, hosted by Illinois. The 6,000-meter course was a preview of the same course that will be raced at the Big Ten Championships in May.

The Wolverines held the first six finishes, with fifth-year senior Danielle Tauro earning the top spot at 20:19. Junior Rebecca Addison finished a mere seconds behind at 20:26 for a second-place finish.

“We worked together as a pack to maintain the pace,” Tauro said. “We anticipated that we would be controlling the front.”

Tauro, Addison, senior Mary Grace Pellegrini and redshirt sophomore Chloe Prince all ran personal-best times. With so many athletes breaking personal records, some of the weekend's success can be attributed to the cool, overcast conditions.

“It was nice not feeling like I was going to pass out because of the heat like at the intrasquad meet,” Addison said.

The team spirits were noticeably higher this weekend than the intrasquad meet at Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter, Mich., where the nearly 100-degree heat put the athletes in danger.

“We had a lot more adrenaline going into this meet,” Tauro said. “It’s always exciting traveling for the first time of the season and seeing people in different jerseys that you’re competing against.”

Michigan coach Mike McGuire’s goal for the season is that each week the team improves. By training hard and keeping the team healthy, that goal is achievable. The team has already improved within the last two weeks and showed their improvement this weekend by snagging eight of the top-10 finishes.

After this weekend, the team also has individual goals to improve on this season. Looking back on the race, Addison wanted to change one thing.

“I could have pushed harder at the end of the race,” Addison said. “The last five meters I slowed down.”

Despite the good showing this weekend, the Wolverines have yet to compete against the best runners in the Big Ten. The team will have to go up against rivals like Michigan State and Iowa.

“Even though Michigan State lost their top girl this season, they still look good,” Tauro said. “They’ll be competitive with us.”

Added McGuire: “The team has great depth. Even though we did very well today, we still have a lot of work to do to prepare for Big Tens.”