Wisconsin cross country coach Jerry Schumacher doesn’t say much to the media regarding his team, but says plenty about others. Despite his team’s success, he’s weary of the competition the Badgers will face Sunday at the Big Ten Championships.

“It’s probably, on paper, the best cross country conference in the nation,” said Shumacher of the Big Ten. “It’s going to be a tough meet, and nothing comes easy in the Big Ten Championships.”

The No. 6 Michigan men’s cross country team has been racing like it’s been practicing — confidently. Winning the title won’t be easy, though, as No. 2 Wisconsin is the easy favorite, going for its fifth straight Big Ten title. If Michigan is battling for the runner-up position, it will likely still have to deal with the seventh-ranked Buckeyes, whom the Wolverines finished one point behind a year ago. They will also have to watch out for No. 15 Indiana, which could easily slip into that second spot.

Ohio State coach Robert Gary has hopes of finishing ahead of Michigan.

“We’ve been going back and forth all season with Michigan at meets and in the rankings,” Gary said. “We hope to have a guy in the top 10, and then a solid pack close behind.”

Michigan wants more.

The Wolverines want to place three runners in the top 10, and the next two in the top 20. Last year’s Big Ten first teamers, Nick Willis and Nate Brannen, are right on track to be in the top seven again, and Tom Greenless can be there too, if he continues to run like he has all season.

Brannen seems to have fully recovered from an iron defiency that slowed him down earlier in the season.

“My iron’s way up and I feel good,” Brannen said. “Practice has been going real well.”

The course in East Lansing is flat and fast, so Brannen, Willis and Greenless will be going out in front with the lead group from the start.

Seniors Alex L’Heureux and captain Nick Stanko are expected to round out the scoring for the Wolverines, but they’ll have plenty of support behind them.

Senior David Sage, juniors Tarn Leach and Sean Moore and sophomore Andrew Ellerton are all hoping to make a name for themselves at the race.

Stanko and the rest of the team took advantage of a weekend off from racing to get prepared for the race.

“We worked really hard last week and are all healthy,” Stanko said. “At this point of the season, that’s what’s important.”

Michigan coach Ron Warhurst knows what needs to be done this weekend, and that his team is more than capable of doing it.

“We need to get our top three guys in front of (Ohio) State’s,” Warhurst said. “And have our five guys in the top twenty. If we do that, we’ll be OK.”

 

 

 

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