The Michigan men’s cross country team knows how to finish strong.

After a great showing at the Big Ten Championships last week, the 19th-ranked Wolverines came back with another impressive third-place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Saturday.

Michigan finished with 104 points for the 10,000-meter race, behind only No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 7 Indiana.

Fifth-year senior Craig Forys paced the Wolverines, finishing third in a time of 30:12. Senior Bobby Aprill (14th), redshirt sophomore Brendan Blacklaws (25th), junior Zach Ornelas (26th) and sophomore Morsi Rayyan (36th) all scored for Michigan.

Forys, Aprill and Blacklaws earned All-Region honors for finishing in the top 25.

“I was pretty pleased,” said Michigan coach Alex Gibby. “As of recent, they haven’t had a great race at 10,000-meters. Obviously, at 8K this year we’ve done a pretty good job. But with the step up to 10,000, we expected to be better relative to some of our competitors, and I think we did a good job.”

The top two teams at Regionals automatically qualify for Nationals. The Wolverines were third, but still had a chance to qualify for Nationals through one of 13 at-large bids.

Sunday night it was announced that Michigan had indeed earned an at-large bid, and they will start preparing for Nationals.

“At this point, a lot of the work is done,” Forys said. “We can definitely do the right things to freshen up. We feel confident after a race like today, and that goes a long way in a sport where it’s so much mental when you’re out there running for a half hour.”

With the nine days until Nationals, Gibby says the team needs to focus on fine-tuning its race plans to prepare for its final race of the season.

“We want to take our time getting involved (in the race),” Gibby said. “We want to be a second half type of team. It’s a very good field, so we want to sharpen our execution up front. (The plan is) sharp, intelligent execution early, and following through late.”

With such a strong showing late in the season, the Wolverines believe they can finish in the top-20 at nationals.

Forys thinks the team has potential to do well, and, personally wants to earn All-American honors.

“It’s one of the things in my career that’s eluded me is a good race at the NCAA Cross Country Nationals,” Forys said. “It’s definitely a big one on my list.

“Top-20 would be great. We’ve been 24th for the team twice, and I think we can do better than that. So I wanna have my best team finish ever. We’re a team that can take advantage of any mistakes that other teams make.”

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