For Nicole Edwards, teamwork is key to an outstanding individual effort.
The junior repeated as individual champion Saturday to lead the No. 9 Michigan women’s cross country team to a second-place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships in Bloomington. The finish was enough to qualify the team for Nationals next Monday.
Edwards attributed much of her performance to the support from fellow teammate, senior Erin Webster. Edwards and Webster led the first group of runners side-by-side for the first 5,000 meters.
“It is just so encouraging to have (Erin) nearby in races,” Edwards said. “Whether I see her right beside me or I can recognize her breathing right behind me, I feel like this is what we do day in and day out in workouts.”
Edwards (20:36) finished four seconds ahead of Michigan State junior Nicole Bush, and Webster followed in third (20:47). Michigan finished with 63 points, just three behind Regional Champion No. 8 Michigan State (60).
The early conservative pace allowed the Wolverines to maintain composure and competitiveness throughout the entire race.
“In terms of staying in a group and trying to run together as a team, I think that it worked out well because it was just more relaxed,” Webster said.
Racing conditions couldn’t have been more ideal for the late November day. Due to rain showers Friday, the grounds at the challenging Bloomington course were hard and enabled many Wolverines to achieve fast times.
Michigan rounded out its scoring with solid showings from first-time regional competitors sophomore Geena Gall (21:30), senior Lisa Uible (21:37), and freshman Danielle Tauro (21:44).
By placing in the top two at Regionals, the Wolverines secured their 10th straight trip to the NCAA National Championships.
The Wolverines’ disappointing third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships two weeks earlier left the runners hungry for a victorious showing.
“Our main goal was we wanted to be better than we were at the Big Ten (Championships),” Michigan coach Mike McGuire said. “We wanted to be an automatic qualifier and in that regard we got the job done.”
Michigan will wrap up its postseason at the NCAA National Championships Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Indiana.
“I think that each week we’re all getting fitter and think each week especially when we’re cutting back our training,” Webster said. “We’re just getting sharper. I hope everyone can just run faster and have good places, and I’d love to see our team up there on the podium.”
Michigan at Regionals
1. Nicole Edwards (20:30.76)
3. Erin Webster (20:47.23)
16. Geena Gall (21:30.35)