WATERLOO, Iowa — “It was rough, it was
Few words could explain the disappointment felt by fifth-year
senior captain Nick Stanko. The Michigan men’s cross country
team wanted more yesterday at the NCAA Cross Country Championships,
held at the Irv Warren Golf course in Waterloo, Iowa.
The Wolverines arrived ranked fifth in the nation, hoping for a
top-four finish. But when the dust settled, Michigan finished a
very respectable ninth place. A top-10 national finish seems
remarkable, but the expectations were so much higher.
The weather didn’t help much either. The temperature in
Waterloo right before racetime was 18 degrees, and the windchill
dipped into the single digits. The course had rolling hills and was
frozen solid. The Wolverines experienced strong head and tail winds
throughout the course, making it difficult to control body
Junior Nate Brannen led Michigan across the finish line in 17th
place, his second All-American finish in as many years. Sophomore
Nick Willis was just eight-tenths of a second behind in 18th place,
also his second All-American finish.
“The pace worked out perfect for us,” Willis said.
“We sat right where we needed to, and we just cruised
Unfortunately, everyone couldn’t reach the awards stage
Senior Tom Greenless, who finished in 97th place, left the race
course drained and speechless, on the verge of tears. He came into
the race with high hopes of a top-30 finish, and he had reason to
have them. He was a model of consistency the entire season for his
team, dropping times and places as he went along. He earned All-Big
Ten and All-Region honors coming into the race, but unfortunately
one bad race can damper an amazing season. Greenless stood next to
his mother and teammates after the race quieter than he has been
all season. His entire career should outshadow this one race, as
his teammates and coaches will surely remember Tom Greenless the
Stanko and L’Heureux also finished off their careers on
the national stage. Stanko finished off his third year as the
Wolverines’ captain in 137th place. L’Heureux’s
first and last season as a Wolverine finished well as he finished
in 152nd place. After running for Lehigh University for three
years, L’Heureux transferred to Michigan to become a better
runner under Coach Ron Warhurst. Exhausted after his last race, he
was able to smile and simply explain his last race collegiate
“It was fun,” L’Heureux said.
The frigid weather couldn’t stop Stanford as they
successfully defended their national title. Ranked No. 1 throughout
the entire year, the Cardinal placed four men in the top six and
five in the top 10. Stanford’s 24 points is the second lowest
score ever, and its 150-point margin of victory over Wisconsin
smashed the old record of 122 points help by Arkansas in 1993.
Dathan Ritzenhein of Colorado won the men’s individual crown
edging out Stanford’s Ryan Hall by 1.7 seconds. Ritzenhein, a
two-time High School National Champion from Rockford and the fourth
place finisher in 2001, finished the season undefeated. He fought
back from stress fractures in both tibia’s that forced him to
redshirt last season.