About this time in Ann Arbor, everyone seems to be coming down with a cold. The Michigan women’s cross country team is no exception.
But the bug didn’t hold all of them back, and the third-ranked Wolverines exterminated the competition by earning first place at the Notre Dame Invitational on Friday.
In a field featuring six ranked teams – including Big Ten rival Illinois – Michigan fared well above the pack with its closest competitor, No. 12 North Carolina State, finished 38 points behind.
Redshirt junior Erin Webster took her third consecutive individual victory of the season, running a personal best of 16:36. The Dearborn native has beaten her opponents by an average 18.7 seconds in her three victories.
Strong performances at the soft greens of South Bend secured the win with five of six Wolverines crossing the finish line less than a minute behind Webster. Junior Alyson Kohlmeier took home third place (16:54), while redshirt sophomore Nicole Edwards clocked her own personal record of 17:02, capturing seventh.
“It’s really encouraging with how we ran this race today, encouraging to come out on top,” Edwards said. “I’m really happy with how I ran. I’ve had a bad experience last year at this meet, so it was great to put that behind me.”
Coincidentally, she was battling the cold last year. Having much more fun this year, she was able to forget last year’s Invitational run of 17:42, her worst performance since her redshirt season. Struggles with sickness still hurt Michigan this year, as graduate student Katie Gwyther couldn’t compete this weekend.
With emphasis on the start of the breezy 5,000-meter contest, six Wolverines got into the lead group early, establishing control. Michigan allowed itself to set up for the final mile, picking up runners on the home stretch.
All runners recorded season-best times. Furthermore, fifth-year senior Arianne Field (17:14), redshirt sophomore Claire Otwell (17:27) and redshirt junior Elisabeth Uible (17:34) set personal bests.
“Definitely, I thought we did a very good job,” said Michigan coach Mike McGuire. “At the same time, I think we’re capable of running even better, but I was really pleased (with) where we are.”
According to McGuire, the Wolverines are further ahead of where they were two weeks ago, and a little ahead of the 7th-ranked Fighting Illini.
Edwards expects to stay in front.
“It was fun to go out there, compete, and get a taste of where Illinois is at,” Edwards said. “It was encouraging because today we were better than them, and we plan on being better than them the rest of the season.”
Before taking on the NCAA Pre-Nationals in two weeks, Michigan plans on having four to five workouts. It ‘ll get the chance to collect themselves and recuperate from the cold.
“It’s better this time of the year,” a coughing McGuire said. “If we’re going to get sick, it’s better now than the championship part of the season.”