While most fall sports have gotten into the swing of things, the seventh-ranked Michigan men’s cross country team will lace up for its first scored meet this weekend at the Michigan State Open in East Lansing.

The team enters the season with some pretty lofty expectations. It returns nine lettermen from a team that placed eighth at Nationals last fall. The Wolverines plan on getting back there with some impressive group running.

“It’s more of a group this year than it’s ever been, on any given day it’s seven to ten guys running together,” said coach Ron Warhurst.

That group will be led by returning All-Americans Nate Brannen and Nick Willis. Brannen and Willis traveled to Europe and competed in some international races this past summer. The added competition helped both runners gain a lot of confidence, but both will tell you having an experienced team behind them is good enough.

“It’s kind of easy keeping my focus watching these guys tear it up,” Brannen said.

The Michigan State course they will run on this weekend is the sight of the Big Ten championship Nov. 2. Michigan will use this trip to scout the course, get familiar with the turns and mile markers and learn about when to make their moves, explained junior Sean Moore. The Wolverines haven’t won a Big Ten title since 1998 and will have to go through second-ranked Wisconsin, which has won each of the last four Big Ten titles.

“We hope to be close to (Wisconsin), and if they’re second in the country, there’s no reason we can’t be third or fourth at NCAAs,” Willis said.

Warhurst feels confident that his runners can achieve this if they just stay healthy.

“We just need to keep ourselves from getting injured,” Warhurst said. “They all have racing experience in the big meets.”















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