Even though none of these are household names, the first three of these women are key members of the Michigan women’s cross country team, the three-time defending Big Ten champions. But according to Michigan coach Mike McGuire, the fourth name, Geena Gall, belongs in that group as well.
Gall won’t suit up for the Harriers this season; she has already been redshirted. Still, McGuire feels confident that by the end of the 2006 cross country season Gall will have earned her place among the names mentioned above.
The fact that Gall is being redshirted is the first common tie she has with Feldkamp, Erdman and Edwards.
“We have developed a pattern the past few years of redshirting freshmen who come from a middle-distance background in high school,” McGuire said. “Letting the freshmen train in the fall of their first year allows them to maintain through the winter and spring track seasons and provides a great base for the rest of their collegiate careers.”
Though she won’t compete, Gall plans to work hard this season so that she can live up to the expectations of her coach and her teammates. Most importantly, she wants to contribute as much as possible to the team during her career. The foundation for that contribution begins now.
“I’m trying to make the adjustment to more mileage as smoothly as possible,” the Grand Blanc native said. “All five of us true freshmen are working together to make the transition easier. We all live in West Quad and have a great time hanging out and experiencing college life.”
Gall, who is still bothered by the knee tendonitis that she began experiencing this summer, returned to full team workouts on Monday. She expects to be 100 percent well before the start of the indoor track season.
Returning to team workouts gives Gall even more opportunity to learn from the upperclassmen that McGuire groups her with. Erdman is confident that Gall will live up to the predictions.
“Geena has a lot of potential,” Erdman said. “It’s a quality class of freshmen, (and) they will accomplish a lot in their time here.”
Erdman followed the same path that is currently laid out for Gall. She also redshirted her freshmen year after coming to Michigan as an acclaimed high school runner.
Gall arrives at Michigan highly regarded nationally as a middle-distance runner. She was a two-time indoor 800-meter national champion in high school. Gall only ran cross country for one year in high school, but she showed that inexperience could not hold back her talent. She ran the second-fastest time in her high school conference’s history and was the regional champion in 2004.
McGuire knows that the freshman is just a novice cross country runner. He also knows that, with the guidance he offers, as well as the leadership of upperclassmen like Feldkamp, a novice can quickly become a big contributor.
“I tell the girls that the four years can go by really fast, but parts might feel like a marathon,” McGuire said. “As long as they focus on the preparation and process, the results they hope for will follow.”
McGuire certainly knows what he’s talking about. He ran both cross country and track as a student athlete at Michigan in the mid-1970s.
Gall is making sure she takes in all of the advice McGuire and the upperclassmen offer. She is ready to put in the amount of time and effort necessary so that her name fits with the others that McGuire readily mentions her with.