One word describes the mentality of the women”s cross country team: Focused.

“I look in the eyes of the girls on the team and I can just see it. Everyone”s really excited,” junior Jeanne Spink said.

After shocking many by placing second last week at the Big Ten Championships, the Wolverines are heading to Terre Haute, Ind. for the Great Lakes regional where they plan to prove again that they are championship material.

“We”re coming off our best race of the year at the Big Tens and so we want to be an automatic qualifying team,” said Michigan head coach Mike McGuire.

The top two teams will earn a bid for nationals, and the third place team has a chance for an at-large bid to Greenville, South Carolina. Eight other regional meets will be going on around the nation this weekend.

“We”re confident that we can have a great race if we follow up like we did at Big Tens and run like that, strong and hard,” senior captain Katie Ryan said. “We”re going to have to have our top five runners step it up and run even better than at Big Tens. And we”re competitive. Before the race Saturday, we”ll run the course, see what it”s like, just prepare the pre race, go slow, and work together as a group,”

Ryan says Michigan”s toughest opponents will be No. 6 Michigan State, No. 18 Marquette, No. 19 Notre Dame and Wisconsin. But the team is in great health, both physically and mentally and ready to take on the challenge.

Sophomore Lindsay Gallo has been the team”s top finisher in the past six consecutive meets, and is the only underclassman who is a regional veteran. In addition to Gallo, Spink and Ryan have also competed before in regional meets. Michigan”s lineup for Saturday features two other sophomores, and two freshmen. This will be the second 6,000-meter course that the Wolverines have run this season. Most other meets have been 5,000-meter courses, but the added distance should not be a problem.

So are they nervous? It doesn”t appear so.

“We do better at meets when we”re not nervous. We know what we have to do. We get ready the day and weeks before the race and then the day of the race we”re just crazy, laughing and joking around. We get along really well,” Spink said, laughing.

The team camaraderie can only help the Wolverines as they set off to accomplish their goals on Saturday. Coach McGuire feels the runners are ready and have prepared adequately since coming off the Big Ten meet. Now all they need is rest and time to focus mentally, but as far as running goes, they”re prepared.

“They”re definitely fired up and feeding off each other”s energies. We are focusing on moving forward and looking at this as a great opportunity,” McGuire said.

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