EAST LANSING – Senior Lindsey Gallo crossed the finish line with
a huge smile on her face.

Mira Levitan
Rebecca Walter accepts her medal as Big Ten champion. (DAVID TUMAN/Daily)

“I saw Rebecca (Walter) finish, and Sarah (Pizzo) was right
behind me,” Gallo said. “And I just knew we had won.”

Yesterday, the Michigan women’s cross country team successfully
defended its Big Ten championship title in East Lansing, outscoring
second-place Michigan State by 26 points. Last year Michigan
narrowly beat out the Spartans to win the championship title by
three points. This year the Wolverines went into the Championships
as the underdog behind rival Michigan State. Michigan came out
ahead again, earning the respect of the conference.

Rebecca Walter, a sophomore finished first with a time of 20:40
to capture the team win and earn herself the Big Ten individual
title. Walter also became Michigan’s first Big Ten individual
champion since 1998.

“I felt really good today,” Walter said. “I worked with the
front-runners and was able to keep a close race.”

Competing against Walter for the win was Michigan State’s
Michelle Carson, who attempted to earn a second consecutive title.
But Carson lost ground with Walter about half a mile left, handing
the win over to Walter.

“I had a lot of help from Lindsey (Gallo) and Jessie
(Allen-Young),” Walter said. “They pushed me really hard, and we
won it together.”

Gallo, Allen-Young and Walter have been training together during
practices and planned on sticking together during the race.

“We’ve had some great training over the past few weeks,” Walter
said. “And we stuck together during the race, and it paid off.”

Before the race, the team had a meeting and captain Andrea
Parker told the girls, “We don’t put in these miles for
nothing.”

“She told us that we’ve worked harder than anyone to get here,”
Allen-Young said. “We all have to put everything out on the course.
And I think we all did.”

Michigan coach Mike McGuire didn’t have much to tell his runners
before they raced.

“They were prepared,” McGuire said. “They’ve done their work,
and it was time to be tested.”

Jessie Allen-Young, a senior, finished third overall in her
first appearance at the Big Ten Championships, earning All-Big Ten
honors and providing the Wolverines with a solid hold on the team
title.

“It was a tough race,” Allen-Young said. “It was really wet and
muddy out on the course. But I think overall I ran well, and I was
happy with my performance.”

The rain and mud made a more difficult race for many of the
runners, but Michigan was used to the conditions.

“We’ve had some incredible workouts over the past couple of
weeks in the rain,” Walter said. “It ended up helping us coming
into the race.”

McGuire agreed that the weather wasn’t the best for the
situation, and predicted slower times for the race that was held on
the East Forest Akers Golf Course.

“We haven’t raced on Michigan State’s course in a few years,”
McGuire said. “It’s usually pretty fast, but due to the rain it
definitely slowed everyone down.”

Gallo, however, ran one of her fastest times in the season,
finishing sixth overall and earning All-Big Ten honors in her last
race as a Wolverine.

“This was one of my best races,” Gallo said. “I had a lot of
help from the other girls, and I think it was one of my best
performances.”

McGuire felt that all of the girls had a strong hand in earning
the team title, but that Sarah Pizzo and Katie Erdman who placed
seventh and 14th, respectively were the most influential.

“These girls both finished in the top-15 and were our fourth and
fifth scoring runners,” McGuire said. “They sealed the deal for the
championship title.”

The Wolverines have two weeks before the NCAA Regional
Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. and will concentrate all their
energy on the tough competition and qualifying for the NCAA
Championships on Nov. 24.

 

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