Coming around the final turn at the Big Ten women’s cross
country championships, Michigan freshman Alyson Kohlmeier and her
senior teammate Andrea Parker were running just behind Michigan
State’s Katie Kelly. But with 400 meters to go, Kohlmeier
made her move.

“With one kilometer left, I knew that I had to start
moving up,” Kohlmeier said. “I knew Michigan State was
a good team that we needed to beat, and every spot counts, so I was
really focusing on beating (Kelly) over the last
kilometer.”

Kohlmeier’s move into seventh place towards the end of the
race was indicative of the team performance as a whole. Junior
Katie Erdman (who finished 11th) passed five or six people in the
last quarter-mile, and senior Theresa Feldkamp (who finished 16th)
passed a few in the home stretch, as well, to pick up an extra
10-point cushion and help Michigan succeed in a season-long goal of
a Big Ten three-peat. With 45 points, Michigan finished first, 40
points ahead of Michigan State and Illinois who tied for
second.

By overtaking Kelly, Kohlmeier (21:19) stole the final spot on
the first-team All-Big Ten team, joining junior teammate Rebecca
Walter, who placed second with a time of 20:53.

As the defending Big Ten Champion, Walter was a little
disappointed with a second-place finish. She had faced the new Big
Ten champion, Michigan State freshman Dannette Doetzel, three times
before and had beaten her twice, but Doetzel came out on top
yesterday.

“I think I was ready for this race,” Walter said.
“It started off according to plan, but Dannette just had a
lot in her today. She had a strong finish.”

Walter held her ground for the majority of the race. It was
neck-and-neck for the first five kilometers, and, between the
fourth and fifth kilometers, Walter tried to put some distance
between herself and Doetzel. But Doetzel wouldn’t quit. With
about 800 meters to go in the race, Doetzel made her final move and
Walter just couldn’t hang on.

Three Wolverines finished in the top-10, including Walter,
Kohlmeier and fifth-year senior Andrea Parker — who finished
ninth in 21:30. Parker and Kohlmeier finished 11 seconds apart
after racing together for the first five kilometers.

“Our strategy is always to run with a teammate as much as
possible,” Kohlmeier said. “There are parts in a race
where you might lose your concentration, you’re not as
mentally tough. But when your teammate’s right beside you
working just as hard, it keeps you going. That’s what our
team’s strength is, the fact that we’re all so close
together in talent.”

Coach Mike McGuire was happy with the end result, but there
seemed to be something missing for the Wolverines.

“We were happy to defend our title,” McGuire said.
“Big Ten Championships don’t come easy, so we’re
proud of what we’ve accomplished. I thought we competed
really well and hard, but I didn’t think we looked especially
sharp. Everybody looked a little bit flat.”

Walter agreed that the team lacked something at the Big Ten
Championship, but she believes that anything missing came from
being tired — there was no lack of effort.

“Our team really stepped up and ran a gutsy race,”
Walter said. “We felt like we’d been training pretty
hard and didn’t quite have our legs ready, but the effort was
definitely there — 100 percent.”

Walter believes that, with continued training and maintained
focus, the Big Ten champions will be 100-percent ready for the NCAA
Championship in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 22.

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