The men”s cross-country team is confident heading into the NCAA regional meet in Terre Haute, Ind. this Saturday.
The team is currently ranked No. 11 in the country and is almost assured a spot at the NCAA national meet on Nov. 19.
“This meet is just a preliminary,” Michigan coach Ron Warhurst said. “I”m not too worried about places, as long as we qualify.”
Michigan”s competition in the Great Lakes Regional will come from No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 16 Eastern Michigan and No. 18 Michigan State.
“Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Eastern will be tough,” Warhurt said.
The Wolverines placed second to Wisconsin at the Big Ten Championship earlier this season and Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan have each won their respective conference championship.
“I think five teams (from the regional) are good enough to get out,” Warhurst said.
Two teams from each of the nine regionals automatically qualify for the national meet. In addition there are at-large selections, reserved for the next best teams. Michigan plans to be one of the teams selected.
“We”re not running for first,” Warhurst said. “We just want a solid performance that will get us to nationals.”
The team hopes to score similarly to its Big Ten meet performance.
“We should have two or three guys in the top 10 or 15 we really want to try to group up as best as possible,” Warhurst said.
One change for the Wolverines comes for freshman Alan Webb, who for the first time this year will not be running to win.
“Eastern has got a kid who may be the best in the country,” Warhurst said. “I don”t want Alan to go after him yet, I want him to get through without running his guts out.”
Boaz Cheboiywo of Eastern Michigan is the favorite entering the meet. He is undefeated this year and has posted winning times throughout.
“I want Alan to run with the other guys in the lead pack, (Webb) has one shot to beat (Cheboiywo) and that”s at nationals,” Warhurst said.
Running with Webb in the lead pack should be seniors Mike Wisniewski and Mark Pilja. Wisniewski is coming off a fourth-place finish at the Big Ten meet, and Pilja, who was sick at Big Tens, hopes to improve upon his 16th-place performance.
Rounding out the roster will be Tom Greenless, Nick Stanko, Nathan Brannen and Brian Turner. Warhurst has confidence that these runners are ready .
“We”ll have a solid 4-5-6, and that”s what really helps with scoring,” Warhurst said. “The goal of the season is to run well at nationals. We want to be recovered for that.”
The last few weeks of the season are when the team starts the recovery.
“We”re coming down in quantity, and quality goes up a bit,” Warhurst said. “This is it time for some faster stuff.”