Dave Mekelburg
Lex Williams led the Wolverines at the NCAA Great Lakes Regionals with a seventh-place finish. (MAX COLLINS/Daily)

The No. 23 Michigan men’s cross country team tied for first place with No. 4 Wisconsin at the NCAA Great Lakes Regionals in Indiana on Saturday. By finishing within the top two spots, the Wolverines qualified for the 2007 NCAA Championships.

The victory comes on the heals of a their disappointing fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships.

“We knew we were not going to the NCAA Championships if we didn’t respond,” Michigan coach Ron Warhust said. “We had a tremendous comeback from the Big Ten.”

The Wolverines did more than just respond. Three Michigan runners finished in the top 15 for individuals. Junior Lex Williams placed seventh with a time of 30:53.27, and freshman Craig Forys and sophomore Brandon Fellows finished 11th and 13th, respectively.

The team also showed tremendous depth. Six of Michigan’s runners placed in the top 20, and Michigan’s seventh man, freshman Ciaran O’Lionaird, placed 27th.

“We had our seventh man in front of Wisconsin’s fifth,” Warhurst said. “That just shows you how fantastic we ran.”

Michigan’s runners also showed tremendous heart by overcoming the various health issues that plagued them at the Big Ten Championships. Senior captain Mike Woods couldn’t compete because of a broken foot. He will have surgery tomorrow.

Williams suffered from various illnesses during the Big Tens and couldn’t compete at his usual standard. Sophomore Sean McNamara also experienced health problems when he sprained his ankle in practice early in the week.

“As of this morning, I wasn’t sure if he was even going to run,” said Warhurst after the match. McNamara placed 18th overall.

After bouncing back from disappointment and injuries, Warhurst was extremely pleased with his entire team’s effort.

“The kids ran great,” Warhust said. “They ran in a pack and finally ran together as a group they way we had been planning and hoping all year. If we run the way we did today, with a little improvement we can make the top 10 (at the NCAA Championships).”

The NCAA Championships will be held Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind.

Michigan at Regionals

Top finishers:

7. Lex Williams (30:53.27)

11. Craig Forys (31:07.73)

13. Brandon Fellows (31:11.11)

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