Last weekend, Michigan women’s cross country coach Mike McGuire
was struggling with the idea of having to choose only seven runners
for the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Waterloo, Iowa. Heading into this
meet, there was so much competition between his top runners, he
wasn’t sure who to choose.
Apparently, he made the right decision. Six of his runners had
career-best performances as the Wolverines finished fourth out of
32 teams in the Purple division of the race.
Sophomore Rebecca Walter – who had played second fiddle to
graduate student Jessie Allen-Young earlier this season – led
Michigan across the finish line for the second consecutive week,
this time clocking in at 20:42.
“I was very happy with the results,” Walter said. “It shows that
I’m in good shape, and I expect we’ll do well in the upcoming
Allen-Young and senior Lindsey Gallo finished shortly thereafter
with times of 20:49 and 20:58, respectively.
“This was our best team meet of the year,” McGuire said. “It’s a
good stepping stone going into the Big Ten Championship meet.”
McGuire was especially impressed with Michigan’s strategic
running. The team split into two packs, with the top three runners
in the first pack and the other four in the second pack. This
helped to keep the Wolverines from being slowed down by the
blizzard of 210 runners and resulted in the record-breaking weekend
for the top six Michigan finishers.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” McGuire said of the team’s
performance. “It was a flat course, there was great competition and
our kids (tried) really hard.”
What was most impressive was that Michigan finished just behind
some of the best teams in the country. Defending national champion
Brigham Young, North Carolina and Notre Dame rounded out the top
three teams. With such a strong performance, the 22nd-ranked
Wolverines are expected to take a leap in the standings.
Michigan’s top runners will take a week off from competition to
train for the upcoming Big Ten Championships, where they hope to
defend their 2002 title against rivals Wisconsin and Michigan
State. Meanwhile, the redshirts will try to prove themselves Friday
at the Eastern Michigan Classic.