In an effort to conserve energy one week before the Big Ten Championships, the Michigan men’s cross country team will have a much different look today in Ypsilanti.
Instead of running as a team at the Eastern Michigan University Open, Michigan coach Ron Warhurst plans to have redshirted runners – who have yet to appear in any meets this season – participate along with several unattached athletes in the non-scoring event.
The top nine Michigan runners will take the day off, as they rest and prepare for the Big Ten Championships on November 3. According to Warhurst, many other major schools will also be resting their lineups this weekend.
“Basically it’s going to be an open race, with a lot of open local runners,” Warhurst said. “There’s not going to be any teams over there. Everyone’s getting ready for the conference (meets).”
In addition to the Big Ten Championships next weekend, other conferences across the nation also have championship meets scheduled.
Despite not running today, the top runners have had their hands full at practice this week. Coming off a sixth-place finish in their division at the NCAA Pre-Nationals last Saturday, Warhurst felt his team could have been more aggressive.
“I thought we ran OK,” Warhurst said. “But there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Following the Pre-Nationals, Michigan jumped up nine spots to No. 12 in the national polls, and the team has room to climb higher if it makes the necessary adjustments.
The Wolverines will be focusing on breaking the conservative style that they ran with at the Pre-Nationals. This week, the team went through an intense practice schedule.
On Monday, the team followed its four-mile morning jog with a 10-mile afternoon workout. Tuesday brought a series of one- two- and three-mile runs, all at brisk paces.
Wednesday and yesterday were lighter practices and will be followed by a workout early this afternoon. Later today, the team will go to Ypsilanti to watch their teammates.
At the Pre-Nationals, six of the top seven Wolverines ran their best times of the season. While they may not be able to better those marks in the future – the course for the Big Ten Championships should be more difficult than what the team has previously faced – Warhurst places more emphasis on where his runners rank than on how quickly they finish.
“I don’t care what the times are,” Warhurst said. “I’m concerned with place, who we beat. Times don’t beat people – people beat people.”