After defeating national power Notre Dame to win the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 13, Michigan women’s cross country coach Mike McGuire had high hopes for his runners at yesterday’s NCAA Championship in Terre Haute, Ind.
This time around, the No. 4 Wolverines struggled to keep up with the Fighting Irish and finished two spots behind them, placing sixth out of 31 teams.
Junior Rebecca Walter led Michigan’s finishers, completing the 6,000-meter circuit in 21:11.4, good enough for 35th place. Freshman Alyson Kohlmeier finished 10 seconds behind Walter in 50th place. Walter and Kohlmeier led the way for Michigan throughout the season, and McGuire anticipated better finishes for both.
“I thought we could beat Providence and Notre Dame,” McGuire said. “Overall, it’s been a good year, but today, not everyone had their best races. We got OK-to-solid perfomanecs from (Walter) and (Kohlmeier).”
While Walter and Kohlmeier were off of their best pace, Michigan senior Theresa Feldkamp ran her best race of the season. Feldkamp started towards the back of the pack, and gradually worked her way up to the front. In the waning moments of the race, she passed more than a dozen runners on her way to a 68th place finish. Going into the race, Feldkamp was aiming to break into the top-100.
“I went out like I was supposed to and kept moving up in the pack,” Feldkamp said. “It was hard, with really muddy conditions. I didn’t have any idea where I was in the pack, and I just kept running.”
Sophomore Katie Erdman finished 94th for the Wolverines, and junior Arianne Field rounded out Michigan’s scorers, finishing 103rd. McGuire and Feldkamp singled out Field as an overachiever.
Freshman Lisa Canty came across in 135th place, and senior Andrea Parker, who struggled with illness, finished 236th. Michigan was missing senior Sarah Pizzo, who suffered a fracture of her fourth metatarsal earlier in the year.
Going into the race, just Walter, Erdman and Parker had run in an NCAA Championship meet before. But next year, just Parker will have graduated, and the Wolverines will have six runners with NCAA Championship experience.
“If you use the standard of being fourth the year before, it’s a little disappointing,” McGuire said. “However, six of seven runners will return next year and four were in their first NCAA meet.”
Yesterday’s performance fell short of expectations, but it does not jade McGuire’s view of the whole season.
“Overall it was a good season, and we can build on it going into track season,” McGuire said.