SOUTH BEND — This weekend’s race might not have been the most gratifying for the Michigan men’s cross country team, but it may pay dividends in the rest of the season. Resting four of its top six runners, Michigan entered the 25-team race at the Notre Dame Invitational Friday.
The eight-kilometer race wound the team through the University of Notre Dame Golf Course and provided a generally flat, quick course for the runners. Florida State won the meet with a score of 81 while No. 8 Michigan scored 276, finishing ninth.
Though the finish was lower than expected for the team, Michigan coach Ron Warhurst rested top runners who were suffering from minor injuries, mainly aches and pains.
“I was a little disappointed we couldn’t run everyone we wanted to today, but that’s what happens,” Warhurst said. “I’m much more concerned for a few weeks from now (at the NCAA Pre-National Invitational) than I am today.”
Redshirt junior captain Brandon Fellows led Michigan, finishing 22nd overall and set a new personal best time (24:12).
“This race, I just went out pretty good and tried to stay where I was,” Fellows said. “I don’t know if it was because it was a flat course or what, but it felt good. (I) got my confidence back.”
Previously, Fellows had been running in the fifth or sixth spot for the Wolverines. Friday gave him a chance to be one of Michigan’s top finishers.
And Fellows wasn’t the only one to step up. Redshirt sophomore Peter Christmas crossed the line second for Michigan (24:29), finishing 39th overall.
Freshman Bobby Aprill also ran well, finishing 42nd (24:30) in his fourth race of the season.
“We’re just taking it easy this week,” Fellows said. “I don’t think (this race) adds any indication to how we’re going to be in the next few weeks, once we get everyone back.”
Aprill and Christmas filled the void while redshirt sophomore Ciaran O’Lionaird and senior Lex Williams took the race off to rest up for the upcoming meets.
Warhurst said the Notre Dame Invitational was a chance to get ready for the NCAA Pre-National Invitational on Oct. 18. Pre-Nationals are used to determine a nine-team regional field, with the top two teams from each NCAA Regional qualifying for the national championship race.
“You still have to get used to being in a big field,” Warhurst said. “We’re ranked eighth in the country, and I think that’s a little over-ranked until we prove ourselves.”